The Boston Jr. Eagles hosted the New Jersey Colonials, Mid-Fairfield, Pittsburgh Penguins Elite, Washington Little Capitals and South Shore Kings for a series of 14U (bantam major) games over the weekend.
Some games were better than others, but overall the pace was pretty good. The NJ Colonials were the clear-cut top team. Having seen many of the best 14U teams in the country at the USHL Fall Classic East, the Colonials stack right up with the best of them.
The top three forwards, as you’ll notice below, all came from the Colonials. They were absolutely terrific and undeniably the standouts of the weekend.
South Shore Kings only played two games Sunday while the rest of the teams were in action Saturday and Sunday. The Kings were a well-coached and deep team, but didn’t have as many standouts as the other teams.
The top 12 forwards, 6 defensemen and 2 goaltenders are ranked, then followed in alphabetical order by other players who stood out. This is just one weekend of games. The development process is a marathon and not a sprint. It’s important to remember plenty of high end players at this age won’t materialize down the road, while others that weren’t thought of as well will catch up and surpass those ahead of them now.
1. Cole Vallese, #90 NJ Colonials, Shoots Left - He’s an elite skater who did an excellent job of creating offense all weekend. He has great straight line and agility speed. He’s shifty. He protects the puck well, drives the middle of the ice with the puck from the walls, and uses his edges well. He made a really nice sauce pass on a two-on-one that led to a goal. He displayed good vision with a low to high pass from the corner out to the left point.
2. Brandon Chabrier, #65 NJ Colonials, Shoots Right - He played up front this weekend, but he plays defense as well. He has very good speed and an explosive first step. He showed great footwork and agility one play wheeling around the offensive zone before sending a perfect pass out front for a goal. He plays with an edge and projects well.
3. Alex Gaffney, #10 NJ Colonials, Shoots Left - He’s a little smaller than his two teammates listed above him here, but he’s a player who really grows on you the longer you watch him out on the ice. He thinks the game extremely well and has a good skill set. He can skate well, maneuvering through the zone with finesse. He has good acceleration which allows him to get to loose pucks in the corners and behind the net. He has that extra gear to power his way into the scoring areas. He made a really nice pass to the backdoor for a power play goal Saturday. He also made a savvy chip up the right wall Saturday which sprung a teammate. He’s a complete player who takes care of business all three zones.
4. Victor Czerneckianair, #13 Mid-Fairfield, Shoots Left (Quinnipiac) - He was much better Sunday than he was Saturday, not that he wasn’t good the first day. He has a very well rounded skill set. He has a good shot that he gets off quickly. He is a good passer. He has quick hands, going from forehand to backhand in a flash on a deke in front of the net. He has a good first step with an explosive stride. He’s willing to drive the net for rebounds and he plays well down low and along the walls.
5. Nate Hanley, #12 Mid-Fairfield, Shoots Right - He played very well in Saturday’s game at Walter Brown Arena. He’s a good skater with an above average first step. He passed the puck right on the tape, moved it quickly and precisely and kept plays going. His skill set might not be quite as elite as some, but he should be a solid Division I prospect.
6. Matt Beniers, #10 South Shore Kings, Shoots Left - He is a shifty skater and has slick hands to go along with it. He’s creative and had the best overall offensive skill set on his team. He’s a complete 200-foot center who made a nice look to the backdoor for a goal and was able to maneuver his way around defenders to get time and space.
7. Chase Bradley, #35 NJ Colonials, Shoots Left - He had a great shot and knew where to go to have the puck find him for goals. He’s big and was able to create space for getting shots off. He crashed the net and was an above average skater.
8. Dane Dowiak, #19 Pittsburgh Penguins, Shoots Left - He has a heavy release and a very good shot. He’s able to penetrate into the scoring areas with his skating ability. He’s a complete player who has that extra gear. He reads plays well, which has been a constant trait of his at each viewing. He picked off a breakout pass and had a free go in at the goalie.
9. Christopher Hocevar, #27 Mid-Fairfield, Shoots Left - This was his best viewing to date. Not overly big, he showed the ability to be a power forward. He made a nice move into the zone before ripping a hard wrist shot off the post. He has good feet and worked his way into the slot another time before finishing off a nice backhander into the net.
10. Alexander Servagno, #8 Pittsburgh Penguins, Shoots Left - He’s quick on pucks and is crafty. He has good hands and puck skills. He’s a little small and doesn’t have the ability to consistently get into the grade A scoring areas, but he’s good and is worth watching as he develops.
11. Cam Lowe, #18 Jr. Eagles, Shoots Right - The Eagles had quite a few good smaller forwards who created offense and skated well. He was the best of the bunch, at least this weekend. He scored a breakaway goal with a pretty finish. He was able to find seas in the defense and exploit them. A good example of that was the breakaway goal where he stretched it a little before receiving the home run pass. He had good awareness of his surroundings in the offensive zone.
12. CJ Zezima, #67 Mid-Fairfield, Shoots Left - He’s very quick. He’s crafty and has the signs of developing into a nice player down the road once he gets a little bigger.
Brett Berard, #9 South Shore Kings, Shoots Left - The son of Holy Cross head coach Dave Berard, he’s small, but has a quick, short stride. He was around the puck a lot and knew where to go to find loose pucks and rebounds. He scored a tap-in goal by waiting right at the far post.
Nicholas DeSantis, #12 NJ Colonials, Shoots Right - He was sort of the glue guy on his line with Vallese and Bradley. A play that defined the type of player he was on the weekend came in Sunday’s game against the Jr. Eagles. He made a great backcheck, racing back and riding a player off the puck. He quickly turned it into a transitional chance for his team. He crashed the net for rebound goals and played well away from the puck.
Brendan Dumas, #14 South Shore Kings, Shoots Right - He’s a good skater with a strong setting and was tough to knock off pucks. He was able to penetrate the slot and passed the puck well on the power play.
Logan Ford, #14 Pittsburgh Penguins, Shoots Right - He has good speed but not quite high end, yet. He has a quick release and does some decent things with the puck on his stick.
William Halecki, #21 Jr. Eagles, Shoots Right - He has some skill, maybe not as much as Tresca or Lowe, but he thinks the game extremely well. He was in position to make an impact on the play and played a complete game. He did the little things, like bumping a defenseman and protecting the puck with it on the correct side of him to leverage from the opposition.
Jake Hewitt, #22 South Shore Kings, Shoots Right - He’s a good skater with a nice first step. He was able to create separation. He drew a penalty on a breakaway with his speed.
Joseph Kramer, #81 South Shore Kings, Shoots Right - He’s the younger brother of Merrimack freshman Pat Kramer. He has a good first step and made a heck of a pass to Beniers for a power play goal.
Peter Kramer, #87 South Shore Kings, Shoots Left - He scored a pretty breakaway goal and was a good skater. He’s also the younger brother of Merrimack freshman Pat Kramer.
Cade Spehar, #90 Pittsburgh Penguins, Shoots Right - He has good speed and made a few nice rushes up ice. He stayed a little on the perimeter here.
Philip Tresca, #4 Jr. Eagles, Shoots Right - He’s a very good skater who was snake bit here, but he’s a promising small forward with craftiness and speed to create offense.
1. Nolan Hayes, #6 Jr. Eagles, Shoots Right - He’s an extremely mobile defender who moved the puck well — with passes and skating it up ice. He had good hands, picked his spots wisely for when to pinch and join the rush, and he had a good shot. He’s athletic and has all the makings of a talented prospect.
2. Cole Oravitz, #13 Pittsburgh Penguins, Shoots Right - He really grew on this observer this weekend. He was noticeable at the USHL Fall Classic, but even better here. He has very good strength and made quite a few nice plays to close on opposing forwards and ride them into the boards. He has a hard one-timer from the point and got shots on net low for rebounds. He was able to join the rush and protect the puck in transition. His skating isn’t elite, but it’s good and he thinks the game well the majority of the time.
3. Logan Cramer, #18 Pittsburgh Penguins, Shoots Left - He’s more flashy than Oravitz. He’s mobile, and he pinches and jumps into the rush a lot. He has very good footwork and has good speed. He has good gaps and vision.
4. Nicholas DeGaetani, #7 NJ Colonials, Shoots Right - He’s a very mobile defenseman who made quite a few good looks on breakout passes. One in particular sprung Gaffney on a breakaway. He jumped into the rush and was solid overall.
5. Bauer Morrissey, #6 Washington Little Capitals, Shoots Left - He’s an offensive defenseman with good mobility. He skated well, had good hockey IQ and made some plays defensively. He was the best player on his team.
6. Thomas Messineo, #15 South Shore Kings, Shoots Left - He’s a mobile defenseman with a good shot from the point. He likes to join the rush and he exuded confidence with the puck.
Brad Freyberger, #27 Washington Little Capitals, Shoots Right - He was the best of the two bigger blue liners on his team. He closed well, was physical and was an above average skater.
Joseph Harney, #8 Jr. Eagles, Shoots Right - He made a great lead pass for a breakaway goal on Saturday. He skates well and is a player to keep an eye on as he grows over the next few years.
DJ Hart, #11 Mid-Fairfield, Shoots Right - He’s a physical blue liner who liked to throw his weight around. He made a nice look from the left point on the power play Saturday.
Jason Marsella, #4 Mid-Fairfield, Shoots Left - He had strong footwork and made a few really nice passes in transition. One led to a breakaway goal on Sunday.
Cody Sealey, #19 South Shore Kings, Shoots Right - He logged a lot of time and was solid in his own zone. He was strong on gaps and fundamentally sound. He wasn’t as flashy this weekend, but he could be one of the better blue liners on his team down the road.
William Tripp, #65 South Shore Kings, Shoots Left - He’s a little undersized for now, but he made some nice looks and was able to skate out of trouble after retrieving pucks.
1. Gavin Fitzpatrick, #35 Jr. Eagles, Catches Left - He’s the best ‘02 goaltender this observer has seen yet, and that includes everyone from the USHL Fall Classic East. He’s a big prototypical butterfly goaltender of the modern era who takes up a lot of the net. He skates well and has a good glove. He made a flashy blocker save while his team was killing a penalty. He eats rebounds and kicks low shots into the corner. He’s going to be a good one for BB&N and should be an early favorite to make the NTDP come March 2018.
2. Drew Commesso, #29 South Shore Kings, Catches Left - He has good size and moves well in the crease. He’s very sound fundamentally. He fought the puck a little early on in the afternoon game Sunday, but he’s a top goaltending prospect for this age group.
Aidan Campbell, #1 Pittsburgh Penguins, Catches Left - He has good size and projects well, but it wasn’t his best weekend. He was better on Saturday. He does a nice job squaring up to shooters and making saves look easy.
Cam Smith, #21 Mid-Fairfield, Catches Left - He’s a little undersized, but he skates well, had quick reflexes and had a good glove.