The split season fall midget hockey season has started across the northeast with the Neponset Valley River Rats Jamboree, East Coast Classics Labor Day Cup and Tier I Labor Day Face-Off.
The following is a review of prospects who stood out at the three events, excluding 2018 NHL Draft prospects whose game notes will appear in a separate post. There is also a significant emphasis on players who haven’t been written up as much in these columns over the past few months.
#9 Yale 18U, Defense, 2/5/99, Shoots Right (UVM)
The Alexandria, Va. native was one of the most improved players on the ice the past week. He’s added some size and bulked up. His skating and puck-moving skills have always been his best assets, but he’s added some explosiveness to his game. He retrieves pucks and makes quick, smart decisions on the breakout. His skating is really good which allows him to join the rush and activate while still getting back to defend. He has good feet to side-step forecheckers and to walk the blue line for shots from the point. Overall, he made a positive impact on his team’s possession numbers in both the River Rats Jamboree and the ECC Labor Day Cup. The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders pick will be back for his fourth season of prep hockey this winter at Loomis Chaffee.
#14 Mid-Fairfield 18U, Forward, 3/16/99, Shoots Left
Willits was really good at the BU Prep Showcase, but he was one of the older players there so it was hard to truly gauge how much improvement he’s made in his game. Over the first two events of the fall season, it’s apparent he’s progressed significantly. He’s fast and can make plays. Look for him to have an increased role for Andrew Will’s team at Salisbury this winter.
#91 River Rats 18U, Forward, 12/30/99, Shoots Right
Wooding had a nice weekend at the ECC Labor Day Cup. He has a good overall skill set, can skate and bury chances. Wooding does a nice job of finding open spaces to create offense for his team. The Wrentham, Mass. native is a senior at Rivers School, where he was a key contributor in his team’s successful season a year ago. He’s likely a player who will fit in nicely at an Atlantic Hockey program after a year in the BCHL.
#16 Mid-Fairfield 18U, Forward, 2/22/99, Shoots Right
Holmes has long been a player this observer has been intrigued by. He has good size and an explosiveness to his game, but he’s lacked consistency. He made a nice play down low, getting the puck to an open linemate for a goal on Sunday at the ECC Labor Day Cup. With his physical tools, if he can ever put his game together, he could have some upside. He’ll be a senior at Salisbury this winter.
#10 Springfield Rifles 18U, Forward, 11/23/99, Shoots Left
The North Carolinian caught this observer’s eye a few times over the past year, but he had a good showing at the River Rats Jamboree. The Deerfield junior has good size and ripped a shot from just inside the blue line for a goal in his team’s game against the Little Bruins.
#9 River Rats 18U, Forward, 1/12/99, Shoots Right
Marretta isn’t a player who’s caught this observer’s eye previously, but he played well at the ECC Labor Day Cup. He’s quick with a decent offensive skill set. The Monroe, N.J. native had a quick stick, a nose for the net and wasn’t afraid to go to the dirty areas. Top Division III programs should be keeping an eye on him this winter as he plays his second year of prep hockey for Tilton.
#14 Yale 18U, Forward, 11/4/99, Shoots Right
The Pointe-Claire, Quebec native will be in his second season of prep hockey this winter at Milbrook. He stood out at the ECC Labor Day Cup for his passing and play-making abilities. He’s likely a Division III prospect, but he’s a player coaches at that level should be eyeing.
#6 Buffalo Regals 18U, Defense, 9/27/00, Shoots Right
Krys, the younger brother of BU sophomore and Blackhawks prospect Chad Krys, is starting to come into his own as a player. He’s not as flashy, but he is a good skater who can retrieve pucks and break them out quickly. He has his head up and thinks the game well. He competes and has a good stick. A late ‘00, he’ll be a first-year player at Salisbury this winter after playing for the Westchester Express the past couple of seasons.
#51 North Jersey Avalanche 18U, Defense, 1/29/00, Shoots Right (Union)
Petruolo committed to Union during the Neponset Valley River Rats Jamboree. The Neschanic, N.J. native is a steady blue liner who is reliable. He’s not flashy, but he’s in good position more times than not and will be a nice fifth or sixth defender for the Dutchmen.
#14 NH Avalanche 18U, Forward, 4/1/00, Shoots Left
The Guilford, Conn. native has come a long way over the past six months. Kane has good size and a well-rounded, albeit not elite, offensive skill set. He plays heavy and knows where to go to impact the offense. In the River Rats Jamboree, he made a nice pass to his right wing from deep in the left wing corner for a goal. In the same goal, he scored a breakaway goal after finding a seam in the neutral zone. He projects as a third line winger who can get up and down the sheet, grind some and chip in offensively from time to time at the right Division I school.
#15 Buffalo Regals 18U, Forward, 4/11/00, Shoots Left (Brown)
Rehbaum was the best offensive player on his team the past two viewings. He scored a nice goal coming down the right side, fitting the puck between the goalie and post on the short side. He has the speed to separate from defenders, making plays in transition.
#30 Boston Advantage 18U, Goaltender, 11/19/00, Catches Left
The Wakefield, Mass. native is the younger brother of Merrimack alum Joe Cannata, who is currently in the Colorado Avalanche organization. Cannata played for Malden Catholic the previous two seasons, but he was with the Boston Advantage here. He has good size, tracks pucks well and made several really nice saves against Mid-Fairfield in the ECC Labor Day Cup.
#72 North Jersey Avalanche 18U, Forward, 6/17/00, Shoots Left (Michigan State)
The Floridian has a funky stride, but he gets around the sheet fairly well. He’s strong on his skates, bulls his way to the net and is generally heavy on pucks. He’ll be at Chicago Steel’s preseason camp, but there’s a good chance he remains with the Avs.
#8 Mid-Fairfield 18U, Forward, 5/11/00, Shoots Left (Dartmouth)
The Florida native is a really good passer, but he also found the back of the net a few times in the ECC Labor Day Cup. He’s getting stronger and has always played with an edge. A junior at Trinity-Pawling, he’ll be counted on to key the offense in his third season of prep hockey.
#14 Boston Jr. Eagles 18U, Defense, 5/1/00, Shoots Right (Brown)
The St. Sebastian’s blue liner had a good weekend at the ECC Labor Day Cup. He kept things simple, making good outlet passes and skating well.
#3 North Jersey Avalanche 18U, Forward, 9/27/00, Shoots Right
Fensterstock is a great energy line guy when he’s playing his game. He is quick on the forecheck and hounds pucks. He’s not afraid to fly around and bang bodies. The majority of his scoring chances and goals come off hard work and winning battles. A native of Matthews, N.C., Fensterstock would make for a good bottom six forward who can kill penalties at the right WCHA or Atlantic Hockey school.
#13 Mid-Fairfield 18U, Forward, 7/20/00, Shoots Right
His stride is often critiqued, but he just scores. In both the River Rats Jamboree and ECC Labor Day Cup, he lit the lamp. The Brunswick junior will be a highly sought-after player for NESCAC and other strong academic schools in Division III.
#9 Jr. Eagles 16U, Forward, 2/14/01, Shoots Right (Harvard)
He didn’t play in the games this observer saw at the River Rats Jamboree, but he was tremendous at the ECC Labor Day Cup. His skating and offensive skill set allowed him to take over games. He made nifty moves and impacted the offense on most shifts, scoring at will at times. The New Jersey native will be at Dexter School this fall.
#15 Yale 16U, Forward, 12/17/01, Shoots Right (Maine)
The Central Illinois Flying Aces (USHL) affiliate player was dominant at times in both the River Rats Jamboree and ECC Labor Day Cup. He is huge and loves to play physically. He can control and protect the puck for long stretches along the wall and down low. He has a good shot that he gets off quickly. He has pro upside and is a huge get for Ben Guite and the Maine staff. He’s a newcomer to Salisbury this winter, but expect him in the USHL next season.
#4 Mid-Fairfield 16U, Defense, 2/16/01, Shoots Left
A big blue liner, he has interest from several schools. He skates well and likes to jump into the rush. He has good agility, is strong and can handle pucks. His closing speed is notable. His gaps are a little inconsistent, but he has good reach and makes good pokechecks defensively. He runs around a little too much at times and was forced to take a penalty against the NJ Avs because of it. Overall, the Brunswick junior has upside as an offensive defenseman with size.
#86 North Jersey Avalanche 16U, Forward, 4/27/01, Shoots Left
Few players have improved over the past year the way Lundy has. He’s in his first year with the Avs after coming over from the NY Aviators. He’s a good skater who plays with pace. He scored a goal on a delayed penalty that he drew earlier in the shift against Mid-Fairfield. He made a few really nice passes and had a nose for the net. He plays with an edge in all 200 feet. He scored a nice goal in transition, coming down the right wing in the River Rats Jamboree. He was completely under the radar six months ago, but he’ll likely be committing to a Division I school in the very near future.
#3 Mid-Fairfield 16U, Defense, 1/7/01, Shoots Left (UConn)
Alishlalov is a good-sized defender who is strong and can skate. The Russian native will be at Westminster this winter after committing to the Huskies out of the Colorado Evolution 15U program.
#41 Mid-Fairfield 16U, Forward, 5/9/01, Shoots Left (Yale)
Gammill’s game developed a lot over the past few months. He earned a commitment to Yale out of the River Rats Jamboree. He’s added a step and explosiveness to his already promising offensive skill set. The Berkshire sophomore has good vision and was an impact offensive player at both events.
#93 Jr. Eagles 16U, Defense, 4/3/01, Shoots Left
Brown’s feet need work, but his skating has gotten better. His physical tools are high-end. He’s athletic with great size. He closes quickly. He scored a goal off a wrist shot from the right point in the ECC Labor Day Cup. In addition to improving his skating, Brown needs to keep things simple and handle the puck less. The Belmont Hill sophomore is absolutely a Division I defenseman down the road.
#15 North Jersey Avalanche 16U, Forward, 1/29/01, Shoots Left
Sarlo’s feet and skating still need improvement, but he showed off his good shot and strong play down low at both the River Rats Jamboree and the ECC Labor Day Cup. He drove the net for a nice goal in the Labor Day Cup.
#14 Jr. Eagles 16U, Defense, 1/20/01, Shoots Left
Meehan is one of the more underrated players in his age group. He’s a strong defender who can play with a mean streak. He has a good stick, above average hockey sense and he skates well. He has good vision on breakouts and showed off his hands on a move that started at his attacking blue line in the ECC Labor Day Cup.
#30 Yale 16U, Goaltender, 3/19/01, Catches Left
Wilder is often overshadowed, but he might be the best ‘01 goaltender in the region outside of Spencer Knight. He has good size, athleticism and makes saves. He’ll be a key component for Hotchkiss this winter.
#2 Jr. Flyers 16U, Defense, 12/17/01, Shoots Left (Nebraska-Omaha)
Japchen is a puck-moving defender with good mobility. He can skate it up ice as well as make smart breakout passes. He’s a little on the smaller side, but he could be a solid offensive defenseman who could quarterback the power play for UNO.
#11 River Rats 16U, Defense, 5/31/01, Shoots Right
Connor is a rugged defender who has the most upside of any player at his position on the River Rats. He’s physical with a good reach and closing ability in his own zone. Once he improves his stride and puck skills, he should earn a Division I commit. He’ll be a newcomer to Robbie Barker’s team at Lawrence Academy.
#57 Mid-Fairfield 16U, Forward, 3/4/01, Shoots Left
Fairfax will be in his first year of prep hockey at Salisbury this winter after coming up from the Mercer Chiefs organization. He has good size, made a couple of nice power moves to the net and dished the puck to open teammates after drawing defenders. His hands and feet are only average, but his size is intriguing.
#5 Yale 16U, Defense, 3/17/01, Shoots Right (Cornell)
Rayhill’s skating ability and athleticism are top notch. He’s smooth and makes good, smart decisions on the breakout. His hands aren’t the best, but there is a lot to like about his game. The Big Red commit should see even more playing time for Gunnery this winter.
#20 Jr. Eagles 16U, Forward, 12/31/01, Shoots Right
Cafarelli had impressive viewings at both the River Rats Jamboree and the ECC Labor Day Cup. He’s a smart, 200-foot player who makes good passes and can get a shot off quickly. His skating is strong fundamentally and he’ll add explosiveness as he bulks up over the next few years. Cafarelli is transferring to Cushing from Austin Prep.
#2 Yale 16U, Defense, 1/24/01, Shoots Left
The newcomer to Kent is a smooth-skating, athletic defender who retrieves pucks and makes smart breakouts. He gaps well and is already earning significant interest from ECAC Hockey schools.
#15 North Jersey Avalanche 16U, Forward, 12/4/01, Shoots Left (Air Force)
Few players compete as hard and have as much success around the net as Posma. He scored a rebound goal just by mucking it around the net and winning a battle at the ECC Labor Day Cup.
#11 Yale 16U, Forward, 4/26/01, Shoots Right
What Hoban lacks in terms of elite offensive skill set, he makes up for with quickness and grit down low. He keeps his feet moving and makes plays. He was exceptional at the River Rats Jamboree. Look for him to have an increased role as a sophomore at Loomis.
#23 River Rats 16U, Forward, 5/10/01, Shoots Left
The Marshfield transfer will be a prep newcomer for Dexter this winter. He is fast and can make plays to the outside. He drew a penalty after beating a defender wide in the River Rats Jamboree. He scored a nice goal in the ECC Labor Day Cup. He has the speed and hands to impress observers, but needs to bulk up and round out his game as he continues to develop.
#9 Yale 16U, Forward, 3/26/01, Shoots Right
Willey had a strong game in the River Rats Jamboree. He drove the net for the game-winning goal against the NJ Avs. He got in on the forecheck hard and played with authority. He’s a newcomer to Trinity-Pawling this winter.
#89 LI Gulls 16U, Forward, 3/20/01, Shoots Left
He has good size and could be a power forward down the line. He made a great pass to the slot from below the goal line after driving into the zone down the right wing in the River Rats Jamboree.
#19 River Rats 16U, Forward, 2/1/01, Shoots Right
His offensive skill set is still a work in progress, but he has the size and power to bull his way to the scoring area. He has a hard shot and plays heavy. He’ll be a first year player at Nobles this winter.
#6 River Rats 16U, Defense, 8/16/01, Shoots Left
The BC High sophomore will be one of the best players in MIAA hockey this winter. He skates well and plays with a mean streak. His gaps and decisions are sometimes questionable, but he makes plays and has good positioning in his own zone.
#48 River Rats 16U, Forward, 5/28/01, Shoots Left
Young has added size and brought more of a dynamic ability to the ice over the past six months. He’s still not an elite prospect, but look for him to continue to progress and earn a Division I commit over the next few years.
#44 North Jersey Avalanche 16U, Defense, 5/4/01, Shoots Right
Cimino sometimes gets lost in the shadows of the other defenders in the Avs program, but he does a nice job keeping pucks going north. He has a good stick and competes.
#63 River Rats 16U, Forward, 2/21/01, Shoots Right
The North Yarmouth Academy star competes really hard. He doesn’t have an elite skill set, but his skating is getting better. He scored a nice rebound goal. Most of his offense is centered around hard work and persistence. He’s a player to keep an eye on over the next year.
#13 Yale 16U, Forward, 10/2/01, Shoots Left
The incoming Avon Old Farms forward has good size and drives the net. He can bull his way to the net and into scoring areas, but needs to improve his finishing ability in order to garner Division I interest.
#2 Rochester 15U, Defense, 5/10/02, Shoots Right (BC)
Powell is an effortless skater who can take over games with his ability to carry the puck up ice and move the puck north for his team. His skating and feet are both elite. He makes great decisions and has poise on breakouts. He rarely is ever defending because of his possession skills, but he made a nice pokecheck on a two-on-one at the River Rats Jamboree. His positioning is strong and he can recover quickly because of his feet. The BC commit is an absolute lock to make the NTDP, one of the few such players out east this winter.
#65 LI Gulls 16U, Defense, 7/19/02, Shoots Right (Northeastern)
Chabrier is still transitioning to defense full-time after bouncing back and forth the past year. He’s a big-time puck-moving defender with high upside. His hands, puck-handling capabilities and skating ability are all top notch. He’s still a work in progress in his own zone. Chabrier earned a commitment to Northeastern based on his strong play at both events. He had interest from other Hockey East schools.
#67 Buffalo Jr. Sabres 16U, Forward, 8/7/02, Shoots Right (BC)
Ambrosio’s skating ability stood out in his team’s game against Virtua on Friday night at the Tier I Labor Day Face-Off. His elite first step allowed him to get to pucks quickly and keep plays going in the offensive zone. He was a catalyst on the power play. He has a quick stick and an elite offensive skill set.
#10 Cape Cod Whalers 16U, Forward, 11/5/02, Shoots Left
The Hingham, Mass. native is an elite skater who competes really hard for a skilled prospect. He’s elusive and goes to the scoring areas. He sees the ice well and can set up linemates. He has serious Hockey East and ECAC Hockey interest, including three of the Beanpot schools.
#4 North Jersey Avalanche 16U, Defense, 4/30/02, Shoots Right (Penn State)
Crespo is a very good skater who exudes poise and confidence with the puck on his stick. He made a great home run pass to spring the left wing for a breakaway. His decision making in his own end needs improvement, but he’s absolutely a player who will earn an invite to NTDP Evaluation Camp.
#37 Buffalo Jr. Sabres 16U, Forward, 3/7/02, Shoots Left
Friday night’s game against Virtua was one of Tuch’s best viewings in a while. He combined his size, skating ability and strength to play like a power forward. Tuch was able to power his way into the scoring areas from the walls. He made a great pass to Ambrosio for a scoring chance. He took an unnecessary penalty that negated a power play, which is one part of his game he’ll need to control going forward.
#11 North Jersey Avalanche 16U, Forward, 10/17/02, Shoots Right (BC)
His upside is obviously significant, but he’s still adjusting to 16U after stepping up from bantam as a late ‘02. He’s a good skater who thinks the game well. He went to the right place to find a seam and score a goal in the River Rats Jamboree.
#10 North Jersey Avalanche 16U, Forward, 6/25/02, Shoots Left (Harvard)
For a smaller player, Gaffney works hard and hounds pucks on the cycle. He’s gritty and he’s around the puck a lot. He scored a rebound goal in the ECC Labor Day Cup. He also assisted on a Sarlo goal by winning a battle behind the net and sending it out front. He has an accurate shot and is a creative play-maker.
#19 PAL Islanders 16U, Forward, 6/19/02, Shoots Left
Teply is garnering Hockey East and ECAC Hockey interest and it is well-deserved. He’s not an elite offensive talent, but he’s a player who does a lot of the little things well. He skates well, plays hard down low and battles. Taft’s top incoming player, he’ll be a force for the Rhinos.
#1 Rochester Coalition 15U, Goaltender, 8/28/02, Catches Left
Riley has good size and takes up a ton of the net. His positioning is getting better and he moves well enough if not elite. He rarely faces any rubber because of how good his team is, but he’s a Division I prospect.
#9 Cape Cod Whalers 16U, Forward, 9/9/02, Shoots Left (Providence)
The son of Holy Cross coach Dave Berard, Brett is small, but he’s extremely athletic. He scored on a great goal as he cut through the slot. His feet allow him to be shifty and get to pucks quickly. He’ll be at Bishop Hendricken this winter.
#16 Jr. Flyers 16U, Forward, 7/24/02, Shoots Left
Cameron scored a nice goal coming down the left wing on Sunday at the ECC Labor Day Cup. He’s nifty in tight spaces and has above average hockey sense. He’s the younger brother of RPI commit Matt Cameron.
#5 North Jersey Avalanche 16U, Defense, 8/16/02, Shoots Right
Hall is another player who is starting to play his way into being recruited at the Division I level. He keeps things simple and isn’t flashy, but he does a lot of things well. He hounds pucks going back and does a good job on retrievals. He has a good stick and his body positioning is solid.
#65 PAL Islanders 16U, Defense, 3/15/02, Shoots Left (Harvard)
After committing to the Crimson this summer, Jimenez continues to be a big threat moving the puck from the back-end. He loves to join the rush and is physically mature. He’ll be a newcomer at Taft.
#6 Cape Cod Whalers 16U, Defense, 2/23/02, Shoots Right
Sealey was really good at the River Rats Jamboree. The mobile defender will be a prep newcomer at Cushing this winter. He made great decisions on outlet passes. One such good breakout led to a goal by teammate Brett Berard. He was consistently solid in all facets of the game.
#4 Jr. Eagles 16U, Forward, 4/10/02, Shoots Right
The Rivers sophomore is quick and makes plays with his speed. He’s small and his game can be streaky as he needs to work the middle more consistently.
#11 Yale 15U, Forward, 3/1/02, Shoots Left
The Taft freshman has a lot of upside with his size and skating ability. He has a big powerful stride, plays physically and moves the puck. He made a great sauce pass to the slot from the wall in the River Rats Jamboree.
#35 Cape Cod Whalers 16U, Goaltender, 7/19/02, Catches Left
He wasn’t tested much in the River Rats Jamboree, but he competed hard to track pucks and cover loose pucks in the crease. He also made a really nice split save against a Yale forward.
#10 Yale 15U, Forward, 4/2/02, Shoots Right
Hotchkiss, who will be at Xavier (Conn.) HS for one more season, has good size and shows flashes of promise. He needs to learn to use his size and strength to his advantage on a more consistent basis, but he has upside.
#21 Rochester Coalition 15U, Forward, 6/20/02, Shoots Right
Rexine is one of a few Rochester Coalition skaters outside of Powell who should garner Division I interest down the road. He’s big and can shoot the puck. His skating needs work, but there are intriguing aspects to his game.
#5 PAL Islanders 16U, Defense, 4/19/02, Shoots Left
Evans has good size and can move well for a player his age and size. He will be at Portledge.
#6 Yale 15U, Defense, 2/6/02, Shoots Left
Grillo is a tough defender to play against with a good stick and a high compete. He has good feet and can walk the blue line to get shots on net from the point. He’ll be at Trinity-Pawling this winter.
#89 PAL Islanders 16U, Forward, 5/3/02, Shoots Right
Hanley should be a good prep player who will be a fringe Division I or high-end Division III prospect down the road.
#28 North Jersey Avalanche 16U, Defense, 2/25/03, Shoots Left
Playing up in 16U, he obviously doesn’t have as consistent of an impact as he would if he was still in bantam major. However, his skill and upside are apparent in flashes. He made a great move up the left wing side and sent a laser of a shot past the goalie for a score in transition on Saturday at the ECC Labor Day Cup. He needs to keep things simple and not try to force plays as he adjusts to playing against older players. He’s an elite talent and should be one of the next ‘03s off the board.
#6 Springfield Rifles 14U, Forward, 6/24/03, Shoots Left
He didn’t do much offensively against the Islanders at the River Rats Jamboree, but his skating stood out. He’s an elite skater who will be a freshman at Avon Old Farms.
#81 River Rats 14U, Forward, 3/3/03, Shoots Left
Hess is a versatile player who skates well and made some nice plays with the puck for his team at the River Rats Jamboree.
#91 River Rats 14U, Forward, 11/4/03, Shoots Right
A late ‘03, Murphy has good size and made a few nice passes in limited viewings at the River Rats Jamboree.