There wasn’t a clear standout at the 2017 Road to College Showcase, but a few players separated themselves from the rest of the field.
While the talent level might not have been on par with past years, it’s a great event to scout. There are three games each day all in one rink so there is no running around or missing action.
The amount of Division I prospects was minimal, but there were a lot of players who could be good Division III prospects, something there is certainly no shame in. Some Division III prospects might just be a little too slow, too small or not have a specific skill set required for Division I.
If picking an All-Showcase Team in terms of top Division I prospects, the nod goes to forwards Justin Pearson, Shane Pinto and Azzaro Tinling, defensemen Noah Henry and Ben Meehan and goaltender Joe Sharib.
Special attention was made to focus on players this observer hasn’t seen as much over the past few years. With that being said, here’s a look at 20 of the top performers (in alphabetical order) from the 2017 Road to College Showcase:
Curtis Abbott, #13 Gold, 5/28/99, Forward, Shoots Left, Stratford Warriors (GOJHL) - He had good size and played a mature game. Whether that translates to the next level when everyone is on his level remains to be seen. He scored on a nice backhander and has the size to be effective down low. He lacks elite foot speed.
Justin Collins, #14 Green, 7/17/98, Forward, Shoots Left, TBD - He’s quick and has a good shot. Having seen him a lot over the years at Wilmington and Malden Catholic, he exceeded expectations here. He’s just got to learn to keep the puck moving, but he skates well enough that he can make a Division I roster down the line.
Danny Colon, #17 Blue, 2/13/01, Forward, Shoots Right, Phillips Exeter (Prep) - The Delbarton transfer will be a fun player to watch for Dana Barbin’s team next winter. He made a really nice cross-ice feed to a pinching defenseman for a goal. He has a high motor and keeps his feet moving.
Matt Crasa, #19 Blue, 3/4/01, Forward, Shoots Right, Selects Academy 16U (USPHL) - He scored a nice goal from a tough angle and showed off his good hands and shiftiness.
Jackson Decker, #8 Black, 3/19/99, Defense, Shoots Left, Coulee Region Chill (NAHL) - He’s small, but he can skate. He’s fast, offensive-minded and can push the puck in transition. His defensive zone play is still a question mark.
Carter Dwyer, #11 Grey, 2/2/98, Defense, Shoots Left, Johnstown Tomahawks (NAHL) - He closes and has good positioning in the defensive zone. He’s physical. After another year or two of junior hockey, he could be a nice fifth or sixth defenseman at the lower Division I level. He is more of a stay-at-home type with limited offensive upside.
Xavier Henry, #9 Green, 3/20/01, Defense, Shoots Left, St. Andrew’s College (Prep) - A fourth round OHL Draft selection, the Ontario native has good size and a lot of the physical tools to intrigue scouts. He’s good positionally, kept forwards to the outside and maintained coverage in the defensive zone. He has a good stride, but he doesn’t have great speed yet. The upside is there.
Tim Kent, #9 Black, 8/4/99, Forward, Shoots Right, Lawrence Academy (Prep) - The Floridian is on the smaller side, but he plays with a big heart and compete. He showed that he wasn’t afraid to get to pucks and battle here. He knocked a kid over who had a few inches on him during one scrum along the wall.
J.J. Layton, #2 Grey, 1/23/97, Defense, Shoots Right, Islanders HC (USPHL) - His play dipped for a year or so, but he looked good here. He has the size and skating ability to be a Division I player. He made a few good looks from the point and in transition. He retrieves pucks. His decision-making is somewhat inconsistent, but he has the tools to play at the collegiate level.
Drew Lennon, #8 Gold, 1/12/98, Defense, Shoots Left, Prince George Spruce Kings (BCHL) - Illinois native did some things well and showed some deficiencies, but he was the best blue liner on his team. The physical tools are there, but he needs to shore up his gaps and defensive zone play.
Justin Marler, #7 Black, 12/13/97, Defense, Shoots Right, Islanders HC (USPHL) - He first this observer’s eye at the Flood-Marr, playing for Deerfield. The Naples, Florida native is a big blue liner who skates well enough for his size. Here, he showed he can play with a mean streak, has a good reach and can close on opposing forwards.
Ben Meehan, #4 Blue, 4/20/01, Defense, Shoots Left, Dexter School (Prep) - He didn’t stand out as obviously as he does when going up against his age group, but he was impressive nonetheless. He pushes possession, makes quick and poised decisions and has a good stick.
Ian Murphy, #11 Green, 4/6/99, Forward, Shoots Right, Dexter School (Prep) - He was a little inconsistent in terms of being noticeable, but he showed his skill set on a few plays. He found the score sheet a couple of times. He made a really nice move up the middle of the ice, going end-to-end with agility. He makes good passes and can score.
Justin Pearson, #13 Green, 5/17/98, Forward, Shoots Left, Islanders HC (USPHL) - He’s a good skater who got to pucks and hustled on the backcheck. He made an impact in all three zones and competed hard. He made a couple of nice low to high passes. He made a nice pass through the neutral zone to spring the left wing in on goal. He was in the right place at the right time for a goal in the slot. Expect him to have a good year in the USPHL NCDC.
Shane Pinto, #6 Grey, 11/12/00, Forward, Shoots Right, Selects Academy 18U (USPHL) - Following a good camp with the Lincoln Stars, he drew some NCHC interest. North Dakota assistant Dane Jackson came to watch him play here. He has a good stride, a quick release and he’s a cerebral player. However, he didn’t do enough here with his skill set.
Max Sauve, #2 White, 9/2/98, Forward, Shoots Right, TBD - The former Tabor star played with South Shore Kings last year, but his destination for 2017-18 is up in the air. His speed is his best asset and he assisted on a goal by blowing down the right wing and beating a defender wide. He was formerly committed to Vermont.
Joe Sharib, #1 Green, 8/16/01, Goaltender, Catches Left, Cushing Academy (Prep) - He made a couple of really good saves. He moves well and had a good blocker side. The one issue was he left a couple of rebounds out, but he did the best job of any goalie here. There’s Hockey East interest.
Noah Strawn, #5 White, 9/23/98, Forward, Shoots Left, CT Rangers (USPHL) - He scored nearly 100 points for ORR/Fairhaven in Division 3 Massachusetts high school hockey last winter as well as splitting time with the Jr. Bruins 18U. He’s a speedy winger who plays like a rink rat. He picked a pass off and fired home a quick wrister for a goal. His speed sets him apart and he found the score sheet a lot.
Azzaro Tinling, #5 Gold, 12/20/99, Forward, Shoots Right, Stanstead College (Prep) - He has a good shot, scoring a quick-one timer Friday and found the score sheet all weekend. He has good hands and he certainly showed the ability to finish. He’s a former second round pick of Val-d’Or in the QMJHL.
Dominic Vidoli, #2 Green, 6/23/99, Defense, Shoots Left, Culver Academy (Prep) - He has limited offensive upside from the blue line, but he skates well. He retrieves pucks and can skate out of trouble. He grinds and competes in his own zone.