North Andover, Mass. — Numerous NHL and USHL scouts and college and prep school coaches converged on the campus of Merrimack College to take in the three USPHL All-Star Games on Monday afternoon.
The USPHL had All-Star games for the 16U, 18U and Premier Division.
The 16U Division had the most high-end uncommitted prospects to keep an eye on while the Premier Division featured two potential 2017 NHL Draft selections.
The 16U All-Star Game was the only contest this observer viewed in its entirety as the games were running somewhat simultaneously at the two rinks inside Merrimack’s athletic complex. The South won, 8-1, in a lopsided contest, but it featured several legit Division I prospects. The Premier Division All-Star Game was a laugher, with the Americans winning 9-1 over the Nationals.
The following evaluations of prospects are listed in terms of how they performed on Monday, factoring in projection of future potential.
USPHL 16U All-Star Game Top Prospects
Sam Rhodes, South #20, Skipjacks, Forward, Left Shot, 2/19/00, 5’8”/155 (Providence) - His offensive skill set was unmatched in this game. His speed, quickness and skating ability allow him to separate from defenders, create time and space and make his linemates better. He scored a highlight reel goal off a face-off win in which he skated in from the left side and roofed a backhander right under the bar. He was selected in the sixth round of the OHL Draft by the Barrie Colts.
Dom Fensore, South #4, PAL Islanders, Defense, Left Shot, 9/7/01, 5’8”/140 (Quinnipiac) - His skating ability is absolutely dynamic. He can impact zone exits from his own zone, transition the puck with pace, create zone entries into the attacking zone and move the puck within that zone. His footwork is very good. He’s an elite puck mover. Despite his size, he will receive a legitimate look at the NTDP Evaluation Camp.
Jack O’Leary, South #16, PAL Islanders, Forward, Right Shot, 3/28/00, 5’9”/150 - He’s looked good in several viewings since September, but he took it to a new level Monday. He’s a very good skater with the ability to play bigger than he is because of his explosive stride. He drives the net, uses his edges well and can stop and start on a dime. He has good hands and stickhandles well. He had a nose for the net and was around the puck a lot.
Danny Weight, South #15, PAL Islanders, Forward, Left Shot, 5/2/01, 5’10”/184 - Opinions of the son of former NHL veteran and Lake Superior Laker Doug Weight shouldn’t have changed much after Monday. While he isn’t that tall, he’s rugged and built for success down the road. His size and explosive stride allows him to come off the wall with a purpose. He can separate from defenders below the dots with a good first step. He has a hard shot and creates time and space in the slot.
Max Bogdanovich, North #11, Junior Bruins, Forward, Left Shot, 3/31/01, 6’3”/205 (Maine) - He was the best player on his team Monday by far. He has pro size and used it to his advantage to score his team’s only goal of the game. He drove the net hard after separating from defenders around the blue line in transition. His initial shot was stopped, but he corralled the puck and banged home the rebound. He was consistently strong down low, impacted the flow of the game below the dots and cycled well.
Clark Kerner, South #18, Skipjacks, Forward, Right Shot, 6/16/00, 5’9”165 (UMass Lowell) - This observer is very high on the Kansas native, and Monday did nothing to change that. He protects the puck well and stickhandled well to leverage the puck from opposing defenders. He skates well and is strong on his feet. He made a sauce pass across the ice to Rhodes for a good scoring chance. He was around the puck and the dirty areas a lot. He should be a highly sought after in the USHL Phase II Draft as he went undrafted last year as he was largely unknown until this fall.
Robby Griffin, North #10, Junior Bruins, Forward, Left Shot, 1/8/01, 5’10”/154 (Northeastern) - It wasn’t his best game, but despite that, he still showed why he’s highly coveted. He plays a complete game and thinks the games well. He has good vision, backchecks and does a lot of the little things well.
Brayden Patricia, South #14, Jersey Hitmen, Forward, Right Shot, 6/5/00, 5’11”/165 - He plays a heavy game and started the game’s scoring. He picked off an errant pass in the neutral zone and his centering feed deflected off a defender and into the net. He made a hard hit below the goal line that disrupted a breakout. He has above average hands and feet. He made a nice pass to the trailer on a three-on-two that resulted in a good scoring chance. He’s an 11th round selection of Kitchen Rangers in 2016 OHL Draft.
Zach Lindewirth, South #22, NJ Rockets, Forward, Right Shot, 1/3/00, 5’8”/150 - He has above average speed, especially straight-line. He made a slick backhand pass out front from below the goal line. Later in the game he scored a beauty of a goal, sniping a shot right under the bar on a two-on-one odd man rush in transition.
Stefan Miklakos, South #10, CT Rangers, Forward, Left Shot, 1/20/00, 5’9”/153 - He’s a good skater with slightly above average speed and offensive instincts. He got a lot of chances on Monday, but didn’t bury any of them.
Max Kouznetsov, South #21, Virtua, Forward, Left Shot, 12/6/00, 5’10”/170 - He’s gritty, skates hard and competes. He back checked and won a few puck battles. He has good vision, but didn’t have his best game in the offensive end.
Christian Felton, South #6, Skipjacks, Defense, Right Shot, 2/4/00, 5’11”/165 - He’s a physical player who makes good breakout passes. He is good on gaps, has an active stick and could make a decent Division I prospect down the line. He’s a Madison Capitols draft pick in the USHL.
Jacob Zacharewicz, South #30, PAL Islanders, Goaltender, Catches Left, 2/11/01, 6’0”/160 - He didn’t face much rubber, but he moved well and has good size. He looked to be the best prospect among the four goaltenders in this game.
Thomas Schweighardt, South #3, Jersey Hitmen, Defense, Right Shot, 3/15/01, 5’9”/159 - He’s small, but skates pretty well and can move the puck up ice. He has a good stick and defends by using his feet and being mobile. He’s not a sure thing as far as Division I goes, but he’s worth keeping an eye on as he develops over the next few years.
John Young, North #15, Islanders HC, Forward, Left Shot, 6/3/00, 6’1”/180 (Merrimack) - This wasn’t his best showing. He rushed his decisions and didn’t slow the game down or use his size to the best of his ability. He still had a couple of shifts where he showed what he’s capable of.
USPHL 18U All-Star Game Top Prospects
Matt Gould, North #12, Junior Bruins, Forward, Left Shot, 6/26/00, 5’10”/150 (Providence) - Playing up a division, his speed and acceleration still stand out. He drove the far post with speed for a tip-in goal in the first half. He plays with a purpose and uses his speed to have a positive impact on the game in all three zones.
Cade Groton, South #12, Skipjacks, Forward, Left Shot, 3/31/98, 5’10”/165 - He had very good speed, a second gear and made a really nice low to high pass while on the power play.
Jackson Sterrett, South #14, Skipjacks, Forward, Left Shot, 6/24/99, 5’10”/160 - He had back-to-back breakaways in the first half, scoring on one of them. He separated from the defense in the neutral zone and finished off the breakaway with a nice backhand. He read plays well and had good hockey IQ.
Michael Sacco, South #15, PAL Islanders, Forward, Left Shot, 11/16/99, 5’9”160 - He had very good speed and used it to get to loose pucks. He had a real good chance up the left side where he turned on the afterburners to blow by a defender. He has good agility and drew a penalty by cutting and forcing a defender to haul him down in the left corner.
USPHL Premier Division All-Star Game Top Prospects
Matt Thomson, American #12, Islanders HC, Forward, Left Shot, 11/7/98, 6’1”/194 (Northeastern) - Ever since his freshman year at Reading High School, it was obvious he had Division I potential, but he’s exceeded all expectations in his development. He has an elite stick. His shot is very good. He gets it off extremely quickly and it is accurate. He’s a finisher. He is strong and hard to knock off pucks. He has good hand-eye coordination. He protects the puck, one time getting a shot off with several defenders mauling him. He skates well and has above average speed.
Michal Stinil, American #21, Springfield Pics, Forward, Left Shot, 3/21/99, 5’10”/180 - Another player who has been identified by NHL Central Scouting, his skating is what immediately stands out. He has a very good first step, accelerates and gets to pucks. He does a good job of dishing the puck to teammates from the wall and corners.
Austin Goldstein, American #9, Islanders HC, Forward, Right Shot, 2/5/97, 5’9”/168 (Northeastern) - When he first committed to the Huskies out of Malden Catholic, this observer was left scratching his head, but I’ll admit when I’m wrong. He has really developed into a nice offensive player who should be able to contribute right away for Jim Madigan’s program. While undersize, he’s very quick and shifty. He is a very good passer and made numerous highlight reel plays on Monday. He’s the type of player who can bring energy, play in all situations and be an impact college player on the second or third line.