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Midget Hockey: Labor Day Weekend’s Top Performers

North Jersey Avs ECC Labor Day Cup
Players, coaches and support staff from North Jersey Avs 16U celebrate after winning Red Division of ECC Labor Day Cup at Icenter in Salem, NH.

The East Coast Classics Labor Day Cup and Massachusetts Tier I Labor Day Face Off were held at numerous rinks across Massachusetts and New Hampshire this past weekend.

As is the norm, there were far too many teams at both events, but there were a few very good players at each tournament. This observer took in action at the ECC Labor Day Cup’s Red Division Friday, Saturday and Monday, and watched games in Foxboro at the Mass Tier I Labor Day Face Off on Sunday.

The North Jersey Avalanche stole the spotlight on the weekend. Their teams won the top division of the 14U, 15U, 16U and 18U at the ECC Labor Day Cup. Across the board, the Avs had good players, some of whom were committed and some who won’t be uncommitted for long.

At the other tournament in Foxboro, Mid Fairfield won at the top 18U Division followed by Boch Militia at the next level down for 18U. The Buffalo Jr. Sabres won the top 16U Division.

Here’s a look at uncommitted 2000 and 2001 born prospects whose play stood out this past weekend, keeping in mind it will be swayed towards the ECC Labor Day Cup because the better play was there.

16U Division Forwards

Marek Wazny, #32 NJ Avalanche 16U, Center, Shoots Left, 2/21/00 - A dual citizen, he’s a prospect that keeps growing on you the more you watch him play. He’s not the flashiest of players. He won’t be making toe-drag highlight reel plays. He’s just a very good hockey player that pushes possession numbers in his team’s favor. He’s a very good skater with a smooth, powerful stride. His explosive ability and push-off as he gets going are easy to spot. He has a very good, accurate shot with a quick release. He’s heavy on pucks and is solid in all three zones. One play that stood out from the weekend was him tying up his man on the draw before kicking the puck back to the point for a good scoring chance off the face-off.

Johnny Beecher, #17 Yale 16U, Right Wing, Shoots Left, 4/5/01, Salisbury - He’s got all the makings of being a big time pro prospect in a few years. He’s still a little lanky at 6-feet-2, but his stride and ability to leverage the puck are tremendous. He has a great first step and is explosive despite not having the lower body strength he could eventually have at his size. He won a battle for a loose puck along the wall and drove the net hard with his second gear to separate from the defender. He impacted the net front with his size. He’s got that reach that you just can't teach. He’s got future first round pick written all over him.

Trevor Kuntar, #16 Buffalo Jr. Sabres 16U, Center, Shoots Left, 6/20/01 - He was playing against inferior competition, but he was dynamite. His vision and creativity in the offensive zone were notable. He made a low to high pass out to the point and a pass out front as he was skating right to left behind the net that were both eye-catching. His skating is elite. He can go from 0 to 60 quickly and can penetrate into the scoring areas with agility and that second gear. He has very good hands and can stick handle and maneuver in tight spaces.

Wyatt Schlatt, #91 Boston Jr. Eagles 16U, Right Wing, Shoots Left, 6/4/00, St. Sebastian’s - He’s a power forward with a heavy shot and did a nice job finishing. He’s heavy on pucks and has a good stride. He could really emerge as a pro prospect.

Hunter McCoy, #10 NEFPHL 16U, Center, Shoots Left, 8/1/00, Phillips Exeter - He didn’t see to much ice time in prep hockey as a freshman, but he was great this weekend. He was heavy on pucks, skated with authority and showed he has the speed necessary to play Division I down the road. He made a few real nice looks to create offense. He made a great pass out front from behind the goal line for a goal. He made another great pass to linemate Garrett Foster. His ability to thread the needle and set up teammates was noticeable all weekend. He won draws and had a quick stick. A good stickhandler, the puck went through him any time he was on the ice.

Ross Mitton, #13 NJ Avalanche 16U, Right Wing, Shoots Right, 7/5/00 - He doesn’t have the high end skill and dynamic ability with the puck, but his hard work creates plays and when he gets going, he has offensive upside. He’s fast and skates well. He cycles well down low, is relentless on the forecheck and wins battles along the wall. He’s the ultimate competitor who plays with a chip on his shoulder. He’s a glue guy that keeps a line going.

Cole Kodsi, #62 NJ Avalanche 16U, Left Wing, Shoots Left, 6/18/00 - He’s a player who played prep at NMH last year, but moved on to the AYHL. He’s got a good shot and has a knack for finding loose pucks in the prime scoring areas. He has a nose for the net. He’s heavy on pucks and scored a few goal scorer’s goals over the weekend, including a nice backhander. He’s strong below the dots, cycles well and created chances from down low.

Nick Seitz, #6 NJ Avalanche 16U, Right Wing, Shoots Left, 1/18/00 - He showed the ability to be a power forward who could create offense with good passing. He made a nice pass to the weak side for a goal. He drove far post to finish a two-on-one on the left wing off a pass from Kyle Peters. He patiently waited on a two-on-one to allow time for the trailer to join the rush. He made a good pass from the corner out to the point for another scoring chance.

Adam Robbins, #17 NJ Avalanche 16U, Center, Shoots Right, 4/12/00 - He doesn’t have as much upside as some others here, but he should fit into an ECAC Hockey program. He’s elusive, cuts well laterally and impacts the play because of his quickness. He had a beauty of a goal, scoring on a snipe after a toe-drag, just after receiving a pass from a line mate. He’s persistent on the penalty kill and made a nice play riding a player into the boards as the only player back.

Ryan Willett, #8 NJ Avalanche 16U, Left Wing, Shoots Left, 7/1/00 - He’s a real good passer and made several nice plays to show off his creativity. He made a nice pass to the trailer on the left side after pulling up on the right wing zone entry.

Jack O’Leary, #7 PAL Islanders 16U, Right Wing, Shoots Right, 3/28/00 - He’s on the top line for his team with Danny Weight, the son of retired NHL star Doug Weight. He’s fast and skates well. He consistently had the puck on his stick and was getting chances, albeit missed a few opportunities to finish. His puck pursuit and persistence in all three zones made him a factor.

Danny Weight, #39 PAL Islanders, Center, Shoots Left, 5/1/01 - His improvement over the past year is remarkable. He skates well, is strong on his skates and wins battles, especially down low. He made a nice pass to the point that resulted in a goal after winning a race to a loose puck in the right corner.

Matt Bartolini, #8 Buffalo Jr. Sabres 16U, Center, Shoots Left, 6/1/00 - Playing on the team’s second line with Trevor Peca, the son of ex-NHLer Michael Peca, he stood out for being a complete player who was heavy on pucks. He made a good strong move down the left side with his head up. He got a good shot on goal that was cleaned up for a rebound goal. He consistently had a nose for the puck and drove the net hard.

Austen Swankler, #21 Pittsburgh Penguins 16U, Left Wing, Shoots Left, 8/21/01 - He had a real strong game against the Jersey Avs in the semifinals. He consistently made power moves to the net to get off chances. He’s fast and can stickhandle well.

Matthew Weber, #28 Pittsburgh Penguins 16U, Center, Shoots Right, 3/17/00 - He’s a good skater who played with authority. He made several strong power moves into the zone down the left side. He has a hard wrist shot. He had the puck a lot and gets shots off. He won races and battles for loose pucks and did a good job distributing it to open teammates from the walls. He needs to be more consistent using his power game.

Joey Musa, #12 Yale 16U, Center, Shoots Left, 5/11/00, Trinity-Pawling - He always has had good hands and has been a crafty player, but he’s gained four inches over the past year and put on some bulk. He won a lot of face-offs, won battles and wasn’t afraid to go in the corners. His footwork is very good. He made a couple of nice cross-ice passes. He had a good stick to break up a play in the neutral zone. His best play was one he made in his own zone, stealing a puck along the wall and sending a lob pass out to the neutral zone that sprung Johnny Beecher on a breakaway.

Alex DiPaolo, #20 Yale 16U, Right Wing, Shoots Left, 4/28/00, Salisbury - A Kingston (OHL) draft pick, he’s a power forward who hasn’t reached his ceiling. He’s a little raw, but the potential is easy to spot. He’s good below the dots, thinks the game one step ahead of many of his peers and made some nice looks to feed open line mates after drawing defenders his way.

Riley Brennan, #15 Yale 16U, Center, Shoots Left, 2/22/00, Gunnery - He’s quick and really can fly out there. He lifted a shot into the top corner for a goal on a move into the zone as he was cutting left to right on net.

Kyle Peters, #12 NJ Avalanche 16U, Right Wing, Shoots Right, 4/6/00 - He’s quick and plays with an edge. Nothing exemplified this more than a chip he made up the right wall. He raced past the defenseman for the loose puck and drew a penalty.

Ryan Colwell, #18 Yale 16U, Right Wing, Shoots Right, 6/17/00, Taft - He doesn’t appear to have a ton of offensive upside, but he’s fun to watch. He gives it his all each shift and is great on puck pursuit. He’s relentless and never stops moving his feet. He did start to get more offensive chances as the weekend moved along.

Conor Lovett, #8 Junior Bruins 16U, Center, Shoots Right, 4/7/01 - He’s quick to the outside and has separation speed. He’s very nimble on his skates and created chances by getting time and space.

Kevin Wall, #24 Boston Junior Eagles 16U, Left Wing, Shoots Right, 2/1/00, Salisbury - He’s still learning to consistently use his size and frame to his advantage, but when he does he’s a force, especially down low. He made a few strong moves with the puck as he drove the net.

Griffin Mieckowski, #21 Westchester Express 16U, Center, Shoots Right, 6/9/00 - He was involved in the defensive zone here and did a nice job of starting offense from his solid backchecking. He skated well and did the little things of a 200-foot center.

Sean McAvoy, #7 Springfield Rifles 16U, Center, Shoots Left, 6/6/00, Deerfield - He’s small, but he’s elusive and slippery along the perimeter. He slid in the backdoor for a power play goal. He’s quick, crafty and should be a very good NESCAC player down the road.

Tristan Fasig, #23 Westchester Express 16U, Left Wing, Shoots Left, 10/9/01 - He’s a good skater with pretty good size. He didn’t show much of an offensive upside in the viewing here, but he was good on puck pursuit. A late ‘01, he’s a player to keep an eye on as the year progresses.

16U Division Defensemen

Henry Thrun, #7 Neponset Valley River Rats 16U, Defense, Shoots Left, 3/12/01 - He’s a dynamic two-way blue liner. He skates extremely well, closes off on opposing forwards and can join the rush going forward. He has a good stick, retrieves pucks quickly and has his head up all the time. He has a good shot and can quarterback a power play. He was the best uncommitted defenseman by far over the course of the weekend.

Jaden Struble, #11 Cape Cod Whalers, Defense, Shoots Left, 9/8/01, Nobles - His athleticism and skating ability are elite. The physical tools he possess are undeniable. He’s one of those players that is so flashy, it’s hard to notice him on shifts he doesn’t do something spectacular. Late in the game against Boston Jr. Bruins, he made a highlight reel goal where he took one hand off the stick, moving right to left as he approached the net. As the goalie moved with him he just pushed the puck into an open net.

Cade Webber, #4 NEFPHL 16U, Defense, Shoots Left, 1/5/01, Rivers - He’s still raw, but his size and athletic ability are obvious. His first step for a guy his size is something you notice even if he lacks the lower body strength yet to be truly a force. He skates with his head up and has a good reach.

James Davenport, #13 Boston Jr. Eagles 16U, Defense, Shoots Right, 8/30/00, St. Sebastian’s - This past weekend was the best this observer has ever seen him play. His skating and footwork were both excellent. He has a good stick, made several nice pokechecks, and joined the offense. He was consistently in good position defensively.

Jack Babbage, #97 Boston Jr. Eagles 16U, Defense, Shoots Left, 8/30/00, Avon Old Farms - He has a good stick and a heavy shot from the point. He’s mobile for his size and is an intriguing prospect. He has a little more upside, but his game is a little less refined than Davenport’s currently.

John Campomenosi, #37 Jersey Hitmen 16U, Defense, Shoots Right, 3/8/00 - He’s a very good skater going forwards and back. He was the leader of a very good team here that was solid top to bottom. He can step into the offense with his mobility, vision and shot from the point.

Pierson Brandon, #76 NJ Avalanche 16U, Defense, Shoots Left, 6/1/00 - He’s still coming into his own, but he’s solid and rugged in his own zone. He projects as a shutdown defender.

William Foley, #55 Pittsburgh Penguins 16U, Defense, Shoots Left, 4/27/01 - He has good size and is an intriguing prospect. He made several nice outlet passes, including up to his right wing on two different occasions. He uses the board to chip pucks out into the neutral zone and has good vision to find forwards that are floating. He scored on a nice finish on a breakaway after coming out of the penalty box. He was tight on gaps, kept puck out of his own zone and had length for poke checks. He’s confident. He also scored a power play goal from the point with a hard wrist shot.

Matt Doyle, #18 Buffalo Jr. Sabres 16U, Defense, Shoots Left, 5/10/00 - Without their top two defensemen on Sunday, he had a good game against GBL Bruins. He’s a slightly above average skater with good vision. He made a really pretty home run pass from deep in the left corner of his own zone for a breakaway. He was consistently stepping up and joining the rush.

Nick Carabin, #27 NJ Avalanche 16U, Defense, Shoots Right, 4/1/00 - He’s a little undersized, but he makes good, quick decisions with the puck. He makes good outlet passes and had a good stick to break up several plays in his own zone.

Brandon Cimino, #44 NJ Avalanche 16U, Defense, Shoots Right, 5/4/01 - He’s an offensive-minded defender who made several nice passes. He exhibits good vision and puck skills, but is overshadowed by some of the big-time defenders on his team.

Luke Krys, #6 Westchester Express 16U, Defense, Shoots Right, 9/27/00 - He’s a good skater who skates with his head up. He has good vision, moves the puck well and is an offensive-minded blue liner. He’s the younger brother of BU freshman and second round pick Chad Krys.

Tim Rego, #5 Springfield Rifles 16U, Defense, Shoots Right, 10/31/00, Williston - He’ll be an interesting first year prep player to watch. He showed some signs here of being a blue liner who can be solid in his own zone and skate with most opposing forwards.

Drew Bavaro, #22 Neponset Valley River Rats, Defense, Shoots Right, 6/10/00, Lawrence Academy - It wasn’t his best showing, but he’s a good skater with good size. He has some upside and will be a prospect to continue keeping an eye on. He has good length and made a few nice plays here.

Tim Kippenberger, #7 Junior Bruins 16U, Defense, Shoots Right, 4/27/01 - He was a good skater who had his head up and impacted the transition. He was agile and had a good stick.

15U Division Forwards (ECC Labor Day Cup)

Christian Sarlo, #21 NJ Avalanche 15U, Right Wing, Shoots Left, 6/29/01 - He’s the best complete forward on his team. He possesses above average speed and gets chances by gaining time and space. He’s a strong skater who has the speed to catch up to linemates and recover. He’s strong below the dots, he made a nice pass as he was coming off the right wall and another good feet into the slot from the left corner. He scored an absolute snipe of a goal as he was breaking into the zone that snuck in right below the bar.

Kenny Riddett, #26 NJ Avalanche, Center, Shoots Left, 3/26/01 - He will have to grow and bulk up to truly be considered a good NCAA prospect. However, he’s a fun player to watch who is bordering on being dynamic enough to be considered that kind of prospect now. He’s quick and gets chances because of his speed. He has good agility A nice play that showed how he can impact all 200 feet despite his size came when he took the puck from deep in his own zone. He rushed it up ice before dropping it to Simon Mandel for a goal. His speed caused turnovers. He can pass the puck around and really make plays happen.

Mark D’Agostino, #16 Yale 15U, Center, Shoots Right, 5/6/01, Gunnery - He’s heavy on pucks and plays with grit. He’s a good skater and had the puck on his stick a lot in limited viewing this weekend.

William Kormanik, #89 LI Gulls 15U, Center, Shoots Left, 3/20/01 - He had good size and played a good 200 foot game from the center position. He had good vision, hitting Chris Carroll at the backdoor for a power play goal. He won face-offs, had a nose for the net and was heavy on pucks. He was a good puck handler and created chances.

Chris Carroll, #28 LI Gulls 15U, Center, Shoots Left, 5/4/01 - He had a strong stick, could play the point on the power play and was a versatile player. He knew where to go to get chances and had good hockey IQ. A good example was his sneaking in the back door for an easy tap in goal on a five-on-three.

Luc Radice, #40 NJ Devils 15U, Center, Shoots Left, 2/1/01 - He was quick and got in hard on the forecheck. He made a nice forecheck on one play to win a race for a puck. He then quickly sent it out front for a scoring chance. He consistently skated well and played with an edge. He had a good stick.

Kevin Lyons, #9 Team Maryland 15U, Center, Shoots Right, 2/28/01 - He was the team’s top line center and best player. He’s undersized, but he’s quick and crafty. Despite his lack of size he was able to hold onto the puck and generate offense for his team.

Stephen Willey, #9 Yale 15U, Right Wing, Shoots Right, 3/26/01, ND Fairfield HS - He showed the ability to be strong on pucks and use his physical maturity to his advantage in Monday’s semifinal. He drove the net and had a powerful stride.

Ryan Moorehouse, #12 Springfield Rifles 15U, Left Wing, Shoots Left, 10/2/01, Westfield HS - He’s a little undersized as of yet, but he showed some flashes of potential. He had good hockey IQ and made a nice read on a play in Monday’s semifinal. He picked off a pass at his offensive blue line and turned it into a scoring chance as a result. Another play that stood out was a pass to the right point from the left corner in which he patiently waited until the passing lane opened up.

15U Division Defensemen (ECC Labor Day Cup)

Ian Pierce#21 NJ Avalanche 15U, Defense, Shoots Left, 1/24/02 - He’s a mobile defender who can skate the puck out of trouble. He impacts the transition, pushes possession and consistently made smart and affective breakout passes.

James Rayhill, #5 Yale 15U, Defense, Shoots Right, 3/17/01, Gunnery - He has good footwork and he walks the blue line well. His vision and ability to retrieve pucks and start the breakout are solid. He moves the puck well and has good mobility both ways.

Eamon Doheny, #7 Springfield Rifles 15U, Defense, Shoots Left, 1/6/01, Deerfield - He’s a good defenseman who’s solid in his own end and can step into join the rush as well. He has a good stick and made a few good pokechecks. He did a good job retrieving pucks and quickly looking up ice for smart breakout passes. He’s rugged and physically mature.

John Hallard, #25 NJ Avalanche 15U, Defense, Shoots Right, 1/28/01 - His skating and vision are above average. He has good footwork with the ability to man the point on the power play.

Alex Murtsef, #44 LI Gulls 15U, Defense, Shoots Right, 6/13/01 - He has a good stick, skated with confidence and had tight gaps. He made several nice pokechecks to break up plays before they started. On one such play, he quickly took the puck and transitioned into offense.

Pittsburgh Penguins Elite vs. Boston Eagles in 16U action at the ECC Labor Day Cup
PAL Islanders vs. Little Bruins in 18U action at the Mass Tier I Labor Day Face Off