The Boston Junior Eagles hosted Chicago Mission, Honeybaked and North Jersey Avalanche over the weekend for a showcase of a few of the top midget minor (16U) teams in the country.
The North Jersey Avalanche entered the weekend undefeated, but were knocked off their perfect perch thanks to solid efforts from Honeybaked and Chicago Mission. Overall, it wasn't the best weekend for many of the Avs players who have stood out in the past this fall.
This was fast-paced hockey that was fun to watch and good for evaluating talent. The following rankings will be categorized into A, B or C players by position. The 'A' players stand out as ones who have the chance to have a special impact for a college program while 'B' players are good, but just a notch below. The 'C' players are ones who played well, but need more seasoning to become legit Division I college prospects.
Luke Toporowski, #77 Chicago Mission, 4/12/01, Left Shot, 5-10/163 - He has very good speed and an explosive stride. He might not be quite as skilled as the other ‘A' forwards, but he makes up for it in his compete level and playing a power game, despite not being overly big. His highlight reel play of the weekend was a power move out to the net from the right corner on the man advantage. He finished it with authority after bulling his way to just on top of the crease. He made a big hit in the neutral zone on Saturday that disrupted play. He's almost certainly heading to play in the WHL where his rights are owned by the Spokane Chiefs.
Michael Mancinelli, #27 Honeybaked, 6/28/01, Right Shot, 5-9/160 (North Dakota) - He has a very nice offensive skill set with strong skating ability and puck skills. He's not big, but his stickhandling and footwork allows him to protect the puck, even down low. He has that good first step that allows him accelerate quickly. Two plays of his really stuck out from the weekend. One was a play in back of his goal line Saturday. He knocked an opposing forward off the puck and quickly started the breakout. It ended up with a goal at the other end. The other was Sunday when he was tough to knock off the puck as he skated the puck into the zone and behind the net from the right side. Even as he was being ridden into the boards he sent a perfect pass out to the goalmouth for a score. You don't often correlate toughness and playing a complete physical game at both ends with a player his size and skill set so it was nice to see.
Ryan Savage, #49 Honeybaked, 3/31/00, Right Shot, 5-11/175 (Miami) - He's a little more physically mature than some of the other top forwards here. He has that separation speed that gives him time and space to get his shot off, which he does well. He does a good job finding seams in the defense and exploiting them. He showed off his extra gear on a play down the left wall where he turned on the afterburners and blew by a defender. He finished that play off with a strong move, cutting in on net and sliding the puck in just inside the far post. He was an integral part of the power play as the puck seemingly went through him. The Fargo Force own his USHL rights.
Alex Turcotte, #71 Chicago Mission, 2/26/01, Left Shot, 5-10/190 (Wisconsin) - His speed and elite skating ability help him create time and space. He's a very good stick handler, which allows him to protect the puck and maneuver through and around defenders. He maintains possession for his team through his skating and puck skills.
Owen Lindmark, #22 Chicago Mission, 5/17/01, Right Shot, 5-11/163 (Wisconsin) - He's not quite as flashy as his other two teammates, listed as ‘A' forwards, but he's a complete, sound player. He has good size and skates well. He knows where to be and has above average hockey IQ. He made a tape-to-tape pass at just the right time on a two-on-one to set up a goal for Toporowski.
Ross Mitton, #13 NJ Avalanche, 7/5/00, Right Shot, 5-11/180 (Northeastern) - He's a player that continues to grow on you with each viewing. He's a prospect who doesn't have an elite skill set, but his motor and skating ability make up for it, and then some. He's always going at 110%, but he's starting to find his groove and make some really nice plays offensively. One such play this weekend came when he was moving behind the net from the right circle on the power play. He sent a behind the back pass to Brandon Tabakin who was pinching for an easy goal as the goalie continued to follow Mitton around the net. Northeastern coach Jim Madigan often talks about playing heavy on pucks. Mitton epitomizes this, and he should be a great player for the Huskies. He's a Fargo Force affiliate.
Wyatt Schlaht, #91 Jr. Eagles, 6/4/00, Left Shot, 6-1/190 - He's a good example of a player who projects well, but hasn't come close to reaching his ceiling. He has good size and skates well. He's tough to knock off pucks and he has a hard shot that he gets off quickly. He has a strong stride and backchecks well. One play that stood out, in addition to goals off his hard shot, came in the neutral zone. He caught up to a forward who was going the other way. He used his body to ride the opposing forward right into the boards and eliminate the transition play. He cycles well down low and has a good first step. He's a Lincoln Stars affiliate.
Joshua Nodler, #28 Honeybaked, 4/27/01, Right Shot, 5-11/190 (Michigan State) - He didn't accomplish as much offensively or stand out quite as much as his teammates rated above him, but he's a good skater who uses his edges to cut and accelerate well.
Ryan Roth, #16 Honeybaked, 7/20/00, Right Shot, 5-9/165 - His speed was consistently a factor throughout the weekend. While he doesn't have an elite offensive skill set yet, he has good agility in addition to his straight-line speed. He drew a few penalties because of it. He's an affiliate player of the Tri-City Storm.
Andrew Remer, #7 Honeybaked, 8/2/00, Left Shot, 6-0/175 - As of now, he's a player that projects to be more of a third or fourth line penalty killing specialist. He was responsible in his own end, and seemed to be out there a lot in key situations with his team looking to defend late in the game or on the penalty kill. He has good agility. A play that stood out was, while backchecking, he intercepted a pass just inside the defensive blue line and took it the other way for a chance.
Dylan Davies, #9 Chicago Mission, 2/9/01, Left Shot, 6-1/176 - He didn't exhibit much of an offensive skill set here, but he played heavy on pucks. He won numerous battles on the wall and his physicality on the forecheck led to several turnovers.
Tino Passarelli, #9 Honeybaked, 1/9/00, Right Shot, 5-8/175 - He's quick and had good puck pursuit. His motor was always going and he certainly plays with an edge. A play that stood out was beating out a top Avalanche defender for a puck and riding him off into the boards before taking control of possession. He's a Fargo Force affiliate.
Ryan Sullivan, #14 Honeybaked, 3/7/00, Right Shot, 5-10/175 - He scored the game-winning goal in Saturday's first game with 2:48 left on the clock. It was an absolute snipe from the right circle on a two-on-one. The wrist shot rocked right under the bar and in. He's a Des Moines Buccaneer affiliate.
Matt Cameron, #15 NJ Avalanche, 6/8/00, Right Shot, 5-11/190 (RPI) - He's the type of player whose skill set is above average, but not elite. However, he makes up for it with his awareness of where to be and where his teammates are going to be on the ice. He has a good shot, and put on a show Sunday.
Sean Brown, #19 Jr. Eagles, 9/11/00, Right Shot, 5-11/172 - He scored a few goals Saturday with his good shot. One he put right under the bar on a power move down the left side that he finished off with a hard wrister without breaking stride. The Bloomington Thunder took him in the USHL Draft.
Liam Devlin, #14 Jr. Eagles, 1/7/01, Left Shot, 5-8/150 - Size is probably scaring most college teams away at this point, but he is creative and makes plays happen. It will be interesting to see how he does at St. Seb's this winter.
Tommy Lyons, #16 Jr. Eagles, 4/1/00, Left Shot, 6-0/175 - He's another player whose hockey IQ makes him more of a threat to find the score sheet than just his pure skill set. He's a little bit streaky, not doing much, but then having a goal and an assist in back to back shifts. He's a Bloomington Thunder affiliate player.
Riley Hughes, #4 Jr. Eagles, 6/27/00, Left Shot, 6-1/150 - He looks like a hockey player, but he's still learning to use his size and skills to his advantage on a consistent basis. He plays the point on the power play and made a nice look to the backdoor. He can drive to the net with the puck and muck around in the dirty areas. He scored a goal by crashing the far post. His best hockey is still ahead of him. Sioux Falls Stampede hold his USHL rights.
Matt Shanklin, #57 Honeybaked, 4/26/00, Right Shot, 5-9/175 - He's a gritty player who played to the whistle and on the edge. He won a few battles to loose pucks with his speed, but didn't show much of an offensive skill set here.
Kyle Schroeder, #13 Chicago Mission, 1/5/01, Left Shot, 5-6/181 - He's very quick and can get to pucks. Here, he didn't show the offensive ability he has in the past, but he's a player to keep an eye on as he develops over the next few years.
Tyler Carpenter, #18 Chicago Mission, 8/27/00, Left Shot, 5-11/174 - He plays well below the dots and is the type of player to camp out in front of the net. He made a good tip on a shot from the point for a goal. He wasn't as good in his own zone.
Zachary Dubinsky, #24 Chicago Mission, 3/14/00 Left Shot, 5-9/181 - He's small, but quick. He had a hard shot and saw some power play time. He made a nice look from the wall to the far circle as well.
Kevin Wall, #24 Jr. Eagles, 2/1/00, Right Shot, 6-0/189 - His skating needs some work, but he has good size and drives the net. He scored on two separate occasions just by going to the far post and banging home rebounds. He's a Madison Capitols affiliate.
Will Winship, #21 Jr. Eagles, 10/25/00, Right Shot, 6-3/195 - He has good size, and is a little raw, but there's something there.
Adam Robbins, #17 NJ Avalanche, 4/12/00, Right Shot, 5-9/175 - He was a little inconsistent this weekend, but then again, it wasn't the best of games for his team overall. He did show some good hands on a move into the zone and on net. He made a nice look back to the trailer on an odd-man rush. He made a nice pass to Mitton on the power play.
Max Fields, #9 Jr. Eagles, 2/24/00, Right Shot, 6-2/190 - He'll be new to the varsity team at Belmont Hill this winter. He's gotten better over the last few viewings. He has a pretty good push off the wall to get to the slot, but his hands and offensive skill set are still a little behind players above him here.
Brandon Tabakin, #4 NJ Avalanche, 5/21/00, Left Shot, 5-10/155 (Yale) - His skating and puck-moving skills are dynamic. He can change the tone of the game with his ability to impact possession in a positive manner for his team. He thinks the game very well and sees the ice as well as any offensive defenseman in his age group. This was far from his best weekend of play and he still did things to wow anyone watching. He's a Chicago Steel affiliate.
Brady Smith, #58 Chicago Mission, 8/16/00, Right Shot, 5-8/163 (Wisconsin) - His skating and puck-moving skills are also very good. He has a better shot and plays more physically in his own end compared to Tabakin, but might just be a notch behind Tabakin in thinking the game. He has great footwork as he walks the blue line on the power play. He has a hard one-timer and also takes good wrist shots that get through from the point and on net. The biggest hit of the weekend could well have been his jarring hit in the neutral zone on Sunday morning. The Bloomington Thunder own his USHL rights.
James Davenport, #13 Jr. Eagles, 5/1/00, Right Shot, 5-11/170 - He's not as dynamic as either Smith or Tabakin, but he has a very good skill set and thinks the game well. He made countless smart and effective breakout passes. He retrieves pucks well and gets to loose pucks with his above average skating ability. He has good vision, making a few passes that led to goals. He has a good stick in his own zone and gets in shooting and passing lanes.
Marshall Warren, #77 NJ Avalanche, 4/20/01, Left Shot, 5-11/160 (Harvard) - He's just so good that sometimes it's hard to be impressed by him anymore because expectations are so high. He has an excellent shot. It's hard and accurate. He skates well. He retrieves pucks and certainly pushes possession in his team's favor. If there's a current college player to compare him to, it's Providence's Jake Walman, a St. Louis Blues draft choice.
Hunter Weiss, #26 Chicago Mission, 3/29/01, Left Shot, 6-2/175 (Notre Dame) - He didn't have as good of a weekend as he has in previous viewings, but he still projects as an above average shutdown defender, at least at the NCAA level. He has good size and length and is usually in good position defensively. His foot speed is a little behind the
Drew Cooper, #4 Honeybaked, 8/28/00, Left Shot, 6-1/180 - He's not a flashy player and certainly not offensive-minded. He does possess good size and above average skating ability. He does a nice job getting his stick in lanes. He closes well and has good hockey IQ. He made a decent look from the right point on the power play.
Mitch Miller, #92 Honeybaked, 12/20/01, Right Shot, 5-11/175 - As a late '01, he was the youngest player on any of the four teams. His skating and poise with the puck were both notable, especially as the weekend moved along. He let the game come to him, and made some smart decisions while manning the point on the power play.
Robert Radocchia, #18 Jr. Eagles, 4/1/00, Left Shot, 6-0/163 - This weekend was by far his best viewing to date. He skates well and has a good first step. He transitions from backwards to forwards well. He gets his stick in lanes and has good gaps. He's smooth and made some good passes to transition from defense to offense.
Jack Babbage, #97 Jr. Eagles, 8/30/00, Left Shot, 6-0/180 - He's another player who projects better than he is right now. He's not come close to reaching his potential ceiling. He's smooth, especially for a big prospect. He has good feet and makes good passes, transitioning from defense to offense.
Jordan Harris, #44 Jr. Eagles, 7/7/00, Left Shot, 5-10/175 - He likes to join the rush and made a nice finish on an odd-man rush for a goal Saturday. He's a good skater who certainly pushes possession. He needs to pick his spots wisely and keep things simple. That's when he's at his best.
Pierson Brandon, #76 NJ Avalanche, 6/6/00, Left Shot, 6-1/170 - In his last viewing, he really took a major step. He was just OK until Sunday, but he made a nice pass from his defensive blue line up to the right wing for a chance in transition Sunday morning. He's got a good stick and good size.
Alex Vlasic, #7 Chicago Mission, 6/5/00, Left Shot, 6-3/165 - He scored a power play goal with a wrist shot through from the point, but overall, he projects as a defensive defenseman. He has a good reach and good size. He's still a little raw.
Joe Borthwick, #8 Honeybaked, 8/23/00, Right Shot, 5-11/175 - He's a steady defenseman who didn't make too many mistakes. He had pretty good closing speed. He didn't do enough to warrant much this weekend, but he's definitely a player to keep an eye on for college coaches.
James Perullo, #27 Jr. Eagles, 6/10/00, Left Shot, 5-8/155 - He's small, but he skates well and plays a sound defensive game. He's probably not big enough with his skill set to be a Division I target, but he's a good student who could make for a great NESCAC player.
Mack Guzda, #31 Honeybaked, 1/11/01, Left Glove, 6-4/200 - He's definitely one of the top three 2001 goaltenders in the U.S. He has the size that when he gets down in the butterfly, there's not much room for shooters to shoot at.
Connor Hopkins, #1 Jr. Eagles, 3/9/00, Left Glove, 6-0/200 (Yale) - The Tri-City Storm affiliate is the number one goalie for his team. He has good size, skates well and is an athletic butterfly-style goalie.
Zach Borgiel, #29 Honeybaked, 4/27/00, Left Glove, 6-1/195 - He was absolutely terrific in the second half of Saturday's first game against the Avalanche. He made a sprawling save on Cole Kodsi that would have made SportsCenter's top 10 if it was a college or NHL game. He's a Muskegon Lumberjacks' draft pick.