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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Ohio High School Hockey Rankings

Ranking the Top 8 Ohio hockey teams.  The rankings are derived from a mathmatical formula which includes an X-factor.  (The X-factor is yet another formula that assigns values to the human poll's and yet another value to the previously calculated mathmatical polls.) The Y factor is where it gets interesting as yet anohter factor.  The Y (as in why is everyone a winner factor) is assigned and carries some of the more interesting weight, because as we all know under the current system, the District Champions are the teams that advance to States, which does not equate to the best teams in the state making States.  (I have said repeatedly that this needs to end, and is easily solved.  Each districts top four teams should advance to regional district play. Where by the team with the best record at the end of the season stays on to be the home host to one of each of the remaining teams from each of the other districts.  Thusly establishing a 16 team comprehensive play off.  allowing for the best 4 teams to qualify for the final 4.  Its not rocket science, it is fair as the top 16 teams all have a fair chance to make states at that point, but via playoffs only the top four advance).  The results of this mid season data are listed first followed by two of the individual mathematical poll examples are below. Expect some movement following this weekends events.
 Scouting Ohio High School Hockey Poll
1. Sylvania Northview
2. Shaker Heights
3. Rocky River
4. Olentangy Liberty
5. St. Johns Jesuit
6. St. Edwards
7. Walsh
8. Olentangy Orange     


1. St Ignatius
2. St. Johns Jesuit
3. Sylvania Northview
4. Shaker Heights
5. University School
6. Gilmour Varsity
7. Olentangy Liberty
8. Hudson HS
9. St. Edwards
10. Walsh
11.   Rocky River
12. Olentangy orange
13. Lake Catholic
14. Dublin Jerome
15. Findlay
16. Dublin Coffman
17. Upper Arlington
18. St. Charles
19. Bowling Green
20. Bowling Green


1,Saint Ignatius
  2,Toledo Saint Johns 
  3,Walsh Jesuit
  4,University School 
  5,Holy Name 
  6,Shaker Heights
  8,Saint Edward 
  9,Olentangy Liberty
 10,Rocky River
 11,Sylvania Northview      
 12,Lake Catholic 
 13,Gilmour Academy A
 14,Dublin Jerome
 15,Bowling Green     
 17,Archbishop Moeller 
 18,Olentangy Orange
 19,Saint Charles

 Poll Two

Monday, December 17, 2012

The High School season is underway, sorry for the long delay

December 17th 2012

Well Ohio High School fans, the season is well underway at this point.  I apologize for the long delay-absence.   There have items of interest that run from hither to dither and all points in between.
I again start with the fact that Ohio HS needs to make the move to follow USA hockey rules and regulations.  Not just for the HS championships in USA hockey, but for the cohesiveness that comes with both High School Driven and Related activities being part of the Nations Hockey governing body.  Thus ending the ridiculous, and out right dangerous antics that can and do occur every year, in the pre-post seasons.

So lets dive in here.  Prepost
Once again we see at the 18u AA level  the Ohio clubs making some serious noise.  Team Ohio is quite impressive and looks to be the odds on favorite over Team Cleveland and last years Nationals runners up Sylvania Maple Leafs.  It is my beliefe that the Team Ohio group will likely make the National tourney this year over Sylvania.  That game however will be soome thing to be seen.  As it is those three teams, who harbor what amount to being some of the best players the state has had in recent memory.  The team that represents the great state of Ohio, will make its way to Hartford Connecticut.  Games being played April 3-7th.  The 16U groups will be in Troy Mi the same dates.

As we look over the current HS scene we are seeing the the Cleveland Reds play out more or less as I was predicting we would see last year.  The power seems to be in the hands of the Cleveland public's.  Shaker looks to be the potentially the best team in the state and best for the school.  at 3-2-0 in league play but has strugled a bit and has some consitancy issues.  What is alarming are losses to St Eds and St Ignatius.  This is giving me cause to believe that these teams nerves are likely to hold them back.  Now they do have time sort that out, but if they do not when it matters the experience of St. Eds and Ignatius will come in to serious play.  So if on 1-11 Shaker can upend Ed's as they are capable, and then repeat on 1-26 against Ignatius the table is set for them head down to the life sucking void known as Nation wide arena.  If not its the Wildcats.

IN the North East Rocky River seems to be and should run the table.  Winning how when they should except one drop to Walsh who is going to be right on their heels!

In the south I have seen some of the off beat schools play and its been a joy.  Many strides forward over the past few years and I just want to kudos to all the parents and sponsor who are supporting those areas youth programs and have been for so long.  Keep it up, it is making a big difference and I will predict that in the next few years some will be surprised by a shift should you retain those players for your Varsity squads.  I would like to Orange move up to the Red Division as it would really up the competition level for all parties.  That said I am at looking at Dublin Jerome emerging this season, but I like Orange.

In Northwest Ohio the conversation has been all Toledo St Johns.  Well the good conversations anyway.  Good reasons for that as well.  A great all-star cast of players, and I'll say the best team they have put in the ice in 4-5 years.  The problem I see is,  I feel they are under-performing.  They have another or two levels high they can play at, but seem to only bump into them and not remain constant.  Sylvania Northview after last seasons first State title was written off for dead.  They lost this, they lost that, they dont have a.  I've heard it all and Im discounting it all.  They have goaltending, they have D, they have goal scoring.  They have no "stud factor" no one guy that gets it done, but that damn yellow hair went in to their brains.  They have cohesiveness and each other.  This is a Northview TEAM.  I like what St. Johns has this year and fully see the potential.  I am however calling Northview to play for another State Title, so I figure that means they win the NW district too.

Stay tuned for past player updates and news ....

*  Updates
Connor Frey 93' D Team Toledo/Toledo St Francis 5'11" 180lbs NAHL Amarillo Bulls  22 games played, 3 Goals, 8 Assists, 11 Pts, +15, 23PIM

Patrick Spellacy 93' F, Team Cleveland-Cleveland St. Ignatius 6'3" 195lbs NAHL Kalamazoo K-Wings 26 games 5goals, 6 A, 11 pts,  +3, 2PIM

Matt Wurst 92' 5'11" 195 30 games, 2g, 6 A, 8pts,  -5, 14 PIM  NAHL Kalamazoo K-Wings

Nolan Culver 93 FWD 5'8" 160lbs Team Toledo/Sylvania Northview NAHL Kalamazoo K-wings to EJHL Bay State Breakers 8 games 0g, 0a, +7 4PIM

Dalton Carter 93' FWD 6' 190lbs Team Toledo, Sylvania U18, Sylvania Northview  NAHL Kalamazoo K-Wings to AJHL Norther Cyclones  18 games, 6 G, 4 A, 10pts, 24PIM

Ross Roberson 93 D 6'5" 235lbs Sylvania Northview AJHL Laconia Leafs  3 Games

Austin Gryca 94 G 5'9" 160lbs Team Toledo/ Sylvania Northview, MJHL Laconia Leafs
Games 18 Shots 571, Saves 507, GAA 3.56, Sv% .897

Nate Gay 94 6'4" 205lbs Sylvania u18, BGHS  NA3HL Toledo Cherokee 3 games, 88 shots, 78 saves, 10 goals against, GAA 3.33, SV%.876
Previous team MJHL Twin City NortherLights Games 8, 152 shots, 141 saves, GAA1.41, SV%.928

Ben Torchia 93'Fwd 5'10" 170lbs Team Toledo-Toledo St Francis, AJHL Laconia Leafs 13 games 1g 1A 2pts and 28PIM transfer to NA3HL Toledo Cherokee 7 games 3 G 4 A 7 PTS -2 28 PIM

Kyler Omey 94 D 5'10" 170lbs Sylvania u18, Sylvania Northview 27 games 2 G, 6 A, 8 pts, +4, 22PIM

Layne Martin 93 5'11" 165lbs FWD, Team Toledo, Findlay HS- From MJHL Dells Ducks 6 Games 3g 3A 6pts  2pim transfer to NAHL Soo 7games, 1 g 1A 2 PTS

Nathan Opblinger 93 FWD 6' 185lbs GOJHL Leamington 18games, 9g, 10A 19pts, 8PIM

Austyn Roudebusch 93' G 6'2" 180 lbs Team Toledo- Whitmer HS, GOJHL Leamington 14games 341 shots, 303 saves Save %.886

Jacob Green 94' D 6'1" 165lbs  Olentangy Orange HS, NA3HL Cleveland games 20 0G, 2A 2pts +1 8PIM
Josh Eubank 94' FWD 6'4" 205lbs Sylvania U18 to Wooster MnJHL 31 games 17 goals 20 a 37pts

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Oh Canada

This story has given me several areas of personal debate.  First and foremost being should I include this on this blog.  I have decided that it can and potentially does impact Scouting Ohio High School Hockey.  It opens a seemingly endless can of worms related to hockey, that changes directions faster than rabbit being chased by a bobcat.

Simon Fraser University (SFU), pictured above, is located in the eternally beautiful British Columbia.  SFU is the first ever, international institution to receive NCAA status and the ability to compete in DII, for all NCAA titles.  SFU's entrance is a pilot program, but clearly we all know the NCAA is a business.  While operating under the guise of protecting amateur status and the athletes, has elected to pursue political issues and matters of personal choice.  So with out beating that dead horse to much, we can only ask, Why have'nt College athletes formed a players union?  A players union to protect their interest from the NCAA and University establishments.

So what does this mean for hockey?  SFU has hockey, as seen above.  It means a lot, in many areas of hockey.  The more I think about it, the more I find.  Do not take me or these my thoughts as the definitive word, but the following thoughts I have had, as have others and much has been kicked around, and much more has yet to be tossed about.  The first and seeming logical places this path leads are to the establishment of the NCAA as an international entity.  Impacting not just US athelets and institutions.   The next goes to the NCAA game.  Is it good or bad for NCAA hockey?  How would travel to BC impact travel costs?  Baring in mind teams currently travel to both Alaska schools and Alabama.  This year  will see a contingent of Hockey East members all up in the last USA frontier.  Which confernce picks up SFU?  WCHA, NHC look to be the most likely to me.  Maybe SFU plays independent while waitnig for 5 more BC area teams to follow suit, for that matter 5 more Canadian colleges and the establishment of the ACCHC( All Canadian College Hockey Conference).

There is big money currently abound  BC in hockey.  The NCAA's elite programs are constantly competing for what are considered the most elite amateur hockey players available.  Yes Team USA gets pounded for those youngsters.  I am speaking of the best NCAA eligible Jr players in Canada.  The best NCAA eligible player league, not single team.  The BCHL.  The BCHL consists of 16 member teams.  Teams with names like power house Penticton Vee's, Trail Smoke Eaters, Vernon Vipers, Couqitlam Express, and Powell River.  The BCHL has been a leader in producing NHL talent and is only now being matched by the USHL.  So imagine the recruiting impact, the instantaneous recruiting impact that has.  Every kid has two dreams in college hockey, no 3.  One to maybe make the nHL, but to play for his favorite team, and to play near home are the two I am thinking matter most.  think about the impact if kids from BC can stay and play NCAA hockey in BC.  Then compete against USA kids.  No rivalry's there.
Yet we can then not look past some speculations on the single elite jr league going.  The CHL, Canadian Major Junior Hockey.  Some in these parts refer to the CHL, which is the name equivalent of the NHL, as our nearest conference, the O, or Ontario Junior Hockey League.  The CHL is composed of the W-Western Junior Hockey League, The O as noted above, and the Q- Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.  All three battle each year for the memorial cup.  One can only ponder, would the big money in the W crush SFU's attempt at an NCAA d1 team?  Why think that in the first place?  Major Jr is big money.  For those who don't know these teams draw on average 8,000 fans, 12000+ in the memorial cup.  Players are paid salaries of $100- to over $400.00 a week and they receive cash in exchange for time played to pay for college tuition, have all their paid for, housing, transportation meals etc.  These are 16-20 year olds.  It does not sound like a lot of money 100-400 dollars a week, but if these kids hit NHL rosters, and they do more often than any other league, and stick its $525,000.00 a year to $1,000,000.00.  So these are your 1%ers more than less.   These teams make big money.  They are well established.  They wont look lovingly at anyone "steeling" their players.  This leads to another aspect.  The fledgling CHL players Union.  Would the players shape the Union to alter their compensation to a situation where they may retina NCAA eligibility?    I would think they should, I would think the NCAA and that being in the best interest of the NCAA would be offering those words of advice.  Advice which would in turn benefit the CHL owners and ownership groups.  There is no other industry in the US or Canada that profits from the hard work of 16-20 year old kids.  Is there the potential then I ask, for these 60 more or les CHL clubs to then establish, relationships with Canadian Colleges and establish self funded hockey clubs.  Where the Self Funded Varsity sport is now the new model?

All of the above is of course pending SFU finding or having the funding to pursue NCAA d1 hockey. Or entering in to the last stated thought of some how merging with a CHL club. Having been admitted as D2 they are prohibited from playing d3 and must then petition for D1.  They have a 2,000 seat facility, which is in the smalle end of NCAA rinks, and is a troubling.  Troubling until you look at the landscape and see the 15,000 seat Pacific Colosseum down the street.

We then enter the concept of watering down the sport.  A very real and potential issue.  We see the ramifications all the time with the perpetual state of flux in Jr hockey.  To many teams, to many played lacking real skill, and then the loss of teams.  The mentioned melding of CHL and NCAA hockey in Canada has potential.  Potential only if the right people can continue to profit as they have.  Potential in that the Canadian, US hockey rivalry is hot, Fun and booming.  This coupled with noted talks of expansion in the soon to be established B10 hockey conference in both womens and mens circles is very positive.  Any expansion creates opportunity for the Ohio player.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Jr hockey Brief

Austin Gryca, has two shut outs in his first two Jr outs in the Preseason Jamboree with the Laconia Leafs.  Ben Torchia puts up 6 pts in two games for the Leafs as well, coming as one goal and 5 assists.
In the NAHL Nolan Culver of the K-Wings tallies his first regular season goal and has a Face off win % nearing 80%.  Dalton Carter who appeared in two games in the Blain Showcase is sitting on 2 pts from 3 shots.  His preseason numbers were outstanding and he is staying on that pace.  Matt Wurst back on the Blue for the K-wings is +3 with 3 pts coming from a goal and pair of assists.  Whats more he has broken up more offense and turned the puck back up far more, creating chances for the K-Wings to score.  The K-Wings are being credited for being the most skilled team in the NAHL, and are being considered as Robertson Cup contenders, its great having so many Ohio HS Stars contributing on the same team, getting those accolades.
The real monster here is Connor Frey is 3rd in Bulls scoring with two goals and one asset, is +3 on just 6 shots with 11 PIM.  Now hear this he is 5th leading  NAHL D in scoring, and the offensive D man Frey is only 4 games in to his rookie season!  Frey is positioned well the Bulls and the Bulls are in a position to once again the winningest regular season team, and return to the Robertson Cup.  Word on the street is Frey will be visiting one the NCAA's elite programs in the coming weeks coming out of Blain, congratulations Connor. and all the former Ohio HS players chasing their dreams.
Connor Frey  is a marked man.  The offensive defenseman has been singled out by not one, not two but three TOP TEN NCAA D1 programs.  Programs noted for their consistent showings in the NCAA Championship and for players advancing to the NHL, which is also closely following his progress.  Once his selection is made we will hopefully be the first to publish his pending decision.  Another with a looming decision is Culver, the 93 FWD out of Sylvania Northview, currently with the K-WIngs.  Strong indications of the power house Hockey East Conference.  Further congratulations of Columbus Blue Jackets MM, McDonald who made his verbal commitment to BGSU,  the 6'2" RD man has plenty of time to fully mature before joining the Falcons shortly after they join the newly renovated WCHA.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Pre Post

It was a weekend where we saw a cleveland struggling against Columbus, the Sylvania 16u playing the 18u and Toledo vs Toledo.  There was good hockey, some good players, some players not playing up to their potential and others not playing at all.  Its difficult at best to long term projection when any number of variables is impacting the game.  Prepost is fun for some, development for others, and the off season for others.  Yet Im making my list.  Checking it thrice, I will find out who's nasty and nice.

In this moment I have my Sr's well pined.  Its this group of 96's, that I keep finding pulling me in.  competitive, driven, skilled and responsive.  Playing good heads up hockey, making hits that need to be made, good puck movement, moving with purpose.  Yes these are core of Ohio's next stars.  Sure Geither will move on, Estrell, Crandal, Suter, and host of others from the state.

I hope to post my initial list, and rankings by or in early December.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The road ahead

Stricken with the flu over the weekend. I was unable to attend the puck drop on the pre post season.  I hear, and see, as reflected in the scores that once again Cleveland  put together some very solid teams, and for a seemingly 3rd year in a row, Sylvania.  We are again seeing a nice spike, that was anticipated, in the depth of the 96's.  Which is mirroring past cycles of about 3-4 years. It should be a good pre-post season.

We still need our states HS coach to band together and make a stand at the state level.  Fixing the hockey model.  Where it is imperative there be establish two division and two titles.  As well as rule changes and clarifications.  We have some serious officiating issues, those being directly related to the fact that Ohio has elite level players.  Who just because they skate faster, are far more advanced, are better along in fitness levels, hit harder.  Hitting hard is NOT a penalty.  Hitting a player with in moments after he dishes the puck is not a penalty ( and  if his head snaps and hits the player its NOT CONTACT TO THE HEAD, one could well argue that, that is a head butt).  The next issue no one is going to like, its a third rail, but here goes.  Fighting, needs to be allowed.  Why?  Fighting prevents injuries, and in no way am I referring to the inglorious pre scripted bouts that are abound in Jr hockey and pro, just the in the moment bouts that come from cheap as hell play and stick work.  I am seeing way way way more nasty uses of the stick than ever before, cross checks to the back of the head and  a good fight will for most of these players  be an abrupt end to the issue.  The issue being those who are hacking away at ankles, and legs, or spearing and butt ending will learn quickly just how intolerable their seedy dirty play is, head on, toe to toe.  The Rule on fighting should be... 1. first offense in a game a 5 min roughing.  2. Second offense in a game 2 and 10min roughing and 3 3rd offense delay of game, 2 min, 10 fighting major and game misconduct and ejection.
Next its on the docket that the NCAA will be going to visors.  HS hockey should mirror this move, for all the same reasons.

Aside from another season of more of the same, and living under  state set of guidelines for a sport that is not run by hockey minded people, we will have a good season and make due.  I will make one preseason prediction right now.  That being, that this years state champion will be from Cleveland, and will be a public school.  Even with Ignatius on the war path, and the St Johns day schoolers at their best.

As I was looking over the protected lists from the various Jr hockey leagues this weekend a few things jumped out.  One, lots of Ohio players and Ohio HS in particular have made the leap, far more than in years passed.  This is a statement to the hockey world that Ohio HS and its broad scope of modern coaches are developing talent, but more so still, that the teams are not just watching, they are seeing the same.  That two, and we see this written all the time.  There are good Jr hockey leagues and bad, and that you can not advance if your not playing.  Case and point the NA3HL.  The NA3HL, which has special provisional tenders with he NAHL, that do not count against the 9 tenders each team posses out right at the start of each season, had only 2 players matriculate to the NAHL this season.  The EXACT same number of Ohio HS players.  So its a nasty double edged sword, but one where the player is left wielding the blade.  Work hard and you can advance from anywhere, but its far better to start some where, and to do so you only need to look a franchises- coaches-leagues track record of historical placements.

Ohio's early spotlight players coming in the next submission.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Laconia Leafs sign forward Ben Torchia

Ben Torchia pictured above has signed his contract to play his first year of Jr's with the Laconia Leafs AJHL.  The August 26th 1993 forward stands 5-10 and is 165lbs.  Playing last year for Detroit Bell Tire. Torchia appeared in 39 games, scored 11 goals and had 15 assists with 28 PIM.  Torchia's speed, stature and fearless style of play are just a natural fit for the east coast game, and any number of Atlantic, ECAC or Hockey East schools.

Ben is noted as being a tenacious two way forward, hard on both the fore and back check.  Having good velocity and the ability to hit like a freight train.  His nose for the net and vision make him a very powerful offensive weapon.  Ben's noted for having been highly sought after by OHL clubs following his 2006/2007 season with Victory Honda, where he put up 33points in 31 games and then later made his first appearance the at theUSA Festival.  Playing in the EJHL New Jersey hit men's tryout Ben amassed 9 points, 6 goals and 3 assists, in just 4 games. ( a natural hat trick  in one game)

By the standards of some Torchia fell off the main stream radar, when elected to join up with his long time friends at the Toledo Ice House playing for the Toledo Cherokee-Team Toledo.  Where he helped played in one of the most exciting midget Major Tier II games, or any hockey game for that matter ever.  The 5 overtime epic semi final in the 2011 Tier II nationals vs Team Cleveland.  ( look for it in the fast hockey archives)  As well as taking the Ohio High School scene by storm with Toledo St. Francis where Ben was a key component in leading the Knights to their schools first Ohio State High School Championship in 2011.  Ben joins Austin Gryca, another former Team Toledo teammate, Sylvania Northview's 4 year starter and 2012 Ohio State High School Championship winning goalie in Laconia.  Both have traded in their veteran cards from the Ohio circuit for Jr rookie cards, and the hopes of aiding new teammates and friends to other Championships.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

August 22nd

Today is one of those days.  The days have become noticeably shorter, the evenings a tad bit cooler, which make us sit that much closer to the fire.  That cool relaxing feeling is however all ways intruded upon by the remembered sounds of skates carving ice, the crack as stick meets rubber and that glorious thud as rubber meets pad.  Ah yes, even the rank stench of gear so funky its not allowed in the home.

We are here my friends, we are here.  The leading edge of the 2012-2013 hockey season.  As I type Conor Frey is in Amarillo sweating and puking his guts out as Williams smiles and hollers for more.  As Culver, Carter, Spellacy and Wurst load their cars to make the 2.5 hr drive to Kalamazoo.  As Martin leaves us trolls behind for the Soo and as Gryca and Torchia make their way to Laconia just as others like Zach Felser are playing a final season of AAA midget major.  We are here, the beginning.

This is also the beginning of the Pre/Post HS season.  This weekend Aug 24-26 will find the Ohio teams at Gilmour Academy.  Sylvania is home to one 18U and two 16u teams.  Its going to be interesting to see how these players and teams develop, and where they stand to start the season.  This will also give us a chance to gauge where various teams and schools will stand across the state.

Ohio High School Hockey developing players

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sylvania Northview Goalie goes undercontact with Laconia

Photo Credit AndyMorrison-Toledo Blade

Austin Gryca signs with Laconia Leafs

Over the last four season of Ohio High School there have been many constants.  One has been Sylvania Northview goalie Austin Gryca, #30.   Austin took the Ohio hockey scene by storm, and did what he said he would do.  "Help Northview win their first State Championship."  Year one the Wildcats fell in the district finals.  Year Two his sophomore campaign the Wildcats, oddly fell to Wildcats.  The St. Ignatius Wildcats in the Championship, which as a loss is still arguably one of his best individual performances.  In his third season the Wildcats lost to Toledo St. Francis, in the one game they needed to win, as they had been the only team all that season, that had been able to beat the Knights (2010-2011 State champions).  It came to year four, his Sr campaign where he and Phil Bowels combined into the best goalie tandem in state history.  Most people, myself included don't go for tandems, especially with a season as short as the Ohio season.  Mike Jones head coach of the Wildcats does it his way. When he saw this capable pair, instead of riding one horse, he lashed them both to a chariot and rode them in race that would make Spartacus proud.

As the numbers go advancement to Jr hockey is hard enough.  Then add in the exponential goalie factor where any given team carries  two to three and your dealing with far fewer teams at every higher level., and each and every spot is highly coveted. The Laconia Leafs and the AJHL have been producing and taken part in devleoping NCAA National Champions, Major Jr Memorical Cup winners and NHL players.  The Leafs are a proud team with a rich hockey tradition just added an Ohio High School State Champion, who once again is a rookie in the hockey life cycle. 

Last year the AJHL-MJHL combined for for nearly 100 NCAA D1 and D3 varsity commitments, and just over 10 players being selected to play in the CHL. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Good things brewing Ohio HS alumni

Rising offensive d-man star Connor Frey has his game face on these days.   The Amarillo Bulls tender.  A Toledo St. Francis 2010-2011 Ohio HS Champion/Team Toledo veteran  is training hard with Mike Mankowski and Dan Jones. Frey is chomping at the bit ready to take his place among the Bull's elite, and dominate the Jr level in preparation for a stellar NCAA career.

Sylvania Northview-Team Toledo veteran, Nolan Culver a veteran of both USHL and NAHL is slated to play this season with the K-Wings of the NAHL. Culver is an exceptionally smart and shifty center, and he too is maintaining his training and development regimen with Mike Mankowski. In anticipation of a highly competitive season in the  hotly contested NAHL North division.

Ben Torchia, FWD Toledo St. Francis-Team Toledo looks to be launching his Jr years in the AJHL as well.  Torchia again can be found training along side long time teammates Culver, Frey, Schmidt( Team Toledo- DesMoines USHL- Ferris State), Rodebusch with Mike Mankowski at Sylvania Tamoshanter, as he gets ready to head off to Laconia NH

Dalton Carter Sylvania Northview 2012 graduate, and Captain of the Wildcats first ever state title team.   Finds himself reunited with former teammates, and competition as he breaks in tot the Jr ranks.  Dalton who amassed 33 goals, and 29 assists in 35 games and was named with Honorable Mention-2010 & 2011
2012 1st team and 2012 Player of the year finds himself at the bottom of the barrel so to speak.  A rookie in the NAHL with Kalamazoo.   He finds himself with Nolan Culver (Sylvania Northview 2011) Matt Wurst Toledo St. Johns 2010 and St Ignatius 2012 graduate Patrick Spellacy.

Patric Spellacy St Ignatius a four year varsity player for the Wildcats and all time record holder in PTS, Goals, Assists and Goals in one game.  Has broken in to the Jr Ranks.  Drafted by Kalamazoo in the 5th round and 98th overall. 

Jacob Green #71 D man out of Olentangy Oranges Pioneers , a state semi final team has elected to join the Jr Jacks NA3HL out of Cleveland Ohio, (Generally as a matter of priniciple) I'll avoid mentioning NA3 matriculation as the league is very hit or miss.  Cleveland is  hit where players grow.

Zach Felser one of the shiftiest handiest players around is joining Bell Tire AAA MM for the 2012-13 season.  A far as centers go with playmaking ability Z is outstanding.

Nathan Gay, BGSH's big goalie and the key net minder of the Sylvania Maple Leafs Tier II Midget Major USA hockey Championship National Runners up has pulled the trigger.  Nate is off the well acclaimed MJHL andTwin City Northerlights.  The MJHL averages 4-6 NCAA D1 commitments annually and a majority of players matriculate to the various CJHL clubs, EJHL, NAHL and USHL every year.

Layne Martin, Findlay Trojan 2011/ Team Toledo was tendered by NAHL expansion team the SOO.  Layne has his NAHL sight set high and is hopeful in pursuing NCAA D1 Alaska.  With his speed, quick shots and two way play it does not take much imagination to see that happening.

Austin Gryca, Sylvania Northviews goalie of record has signed with the Laconia Leafs.  see article.

Tyler DeWitt Sylvania Northview 2013, has made some large strides in his quest to reach Jr's and NCAA play.  Tyler who with out question is the most physical D-man in the area stretched and tested himself in AAA, USHL, and first contact hockey camps this summer.  Easily bringing the heaviest hits, he put up good numbers, and his fight card reads like that of a golden gloves champion.  Entering his Sr and final season at Sylvania Northview Tyler is makes the case for being a corner stone in Defensive Corps and with his unmatchable off ice condition regimen is leading by example.

This completes the Jr round up.  We wish all the above players the best, as they strive to active their goals.

You may have noticed the names Mike Mankowski and Dan Jones above.  This is not by coincidence.  In the following weeks I hope to have a nice piece outlining exactly what this training regimen is all about.  I may just get fancy and add a video to it as well. Update Nate Gay BOwlibg Green High School and Sylvaina Maple Leafs Tier II national runner up goalie is Likely in with Port Huron or Amarillo

Monday, April 2, 2012

Sylvania National Runners Up

The Sylvania Maple Leafs, u18 Tier 2 National Championship run came to a 2-1 3 over time end.  The Sylvania Pre-Post team had loged some 17 pre High School and post HS season games.  The result is a testimony to the quality players that are emerging from the Ohio HS system.
Goalie Nate Gay one of the Top 3 Goalies from Ohio this year, had an amazing run at Nationals.  Nate played 282 Min over 5 games (17 min periods).  Faced 163 shots and turned away 157.  That is over 50 more saves, the 2nd ranked goalie.  Nate had a save percentage of .963 allowing only 6 goals.
 Other Sylvania key stats:
Andy Martin 9 pts, 4 G 5 a
Matt Opblinger 7 pts 2g 5 a
Josh Eubank 7 pts 1g 6a
Reid Mankowski 6pts 4g 2a
Dalton Carter 4pts 3g 1a
Reid Kersey 4pts 2g 2a
Josh Cline 3pts 3g
Zach Felser 3pts 2g 1a
Spencer Calcamuggio 3pts 1g 2a
Matt Young 2pts 1g 1a
Ryan Rapp 2pts 1g 1a
Brady Storer 1pt 1 g
Brent Easton 1pt 1a
Dominick Horvath 1pt 1a
Kyle Kuhr 1pt 1a

The defensive core of Sylvania was exceptionally strong the whole tournament.  Players Storer, Easton, Omey, Rapp, Horvath were essential in the numerous Penalty Kill situations the Leafs faced.  Storer generated some great offensive opportunities and scored a key game winner.

It is safe to assume that had these players been unhindered by oppressive out dated state rules that prohibited players from being  on HS teams at the same time as travel teams.  This Leaf squad would have likely won it all, very handily.  Some serious changes need to take place at the state level, here in Ohio.  Some real hockey representation at the OHSAA, and some competitive balance issue need to be handled.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sylvania rallies to 3-2 OT semi final win and CHAMPIONSHIP BIRTH

Last year it took 5 over time sessions for Team Toledo to down Team Cleveland for a Championship birth.  This year it takes one partial stanza for Sylvanias Andy Martin to find the twine, and send the Leafs to the title game.

The Championship is being played in Lansing, at Suburban at 12:30.  Its a great opportunity to see a great group of players compete for a National Title.

Nate Gay is Sylvania's MVP.  Entering this game the big goalie has played 157 min in 3 games  faced a recorded 95 shots and stopped 93 has a save percentage of .979

 The trend here is that for the last two years Northwest Ohio has won two State titles.  The for the last three years been dominate on the National level.  This game marks the second National Title match in a row.  The 96 Cherokee are following on the same path the 93's were on.  We can only expect that quality youth programs, developing players with skill, that NW Ohio is well on its way to reestablishing the regions Hotbed status.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Sylvania Over Lansing 10-2

Sylvania is advancing to quarter finals as #1 Seed.
We wait to see the rest of the break down.

Day Three USA Nationals, Sylvania on Fire.

Sylvania is on fire at Nationals.  In round one the Leafs took the ice in kelly green sweaters with white trim.  Looking very much like Cardigan or Dartmouth (the Big Green) .  They went on to play big, beating defending champ Hatfield Ice Dogs.  The win came in the OT stanza, where the 2-1 score did not reflect the offensive intensity of the game.  Hatfield's defense blocked plenty of shots out in front of their goaltender making Sylvania's fwd work hard to get deep inside the house.  Both Sylvania goals came from directly around the dirty crease area.  Hatfields shots were just coming from every where, and their goal was one of those "thats why you shoot the puck on net goals".  Rebounding off the cross bar to Gay's back, to the cross bar, to hit gays back and rebound in. 

The real story here was tender Nate Gay.  50 recorded shots, my mental ticker had it about 56.  Every one was on the mid line of gay.  The big squared up butterfly goalie turned away shot after shot in this high speed North South game.  To this point in the tourney Gay has now turned away faced a recored 65 shots, and allowed but one goal, playing 106 min witha  .987 save percent.  Save is doing his in back stopping his team, as he is always does.

Reid Mankowski is leading the leafs in scoring, after his hat trick yesterday.  Followed by Josh Cline, Andy Martin, Matt Opblinger and Reid Kersey all with 2pts each.  Scoring and points are very evenly distributed on this Mankowski lead team, which is a testimony to selfless style of play.

Sylvania is about to face off with Nationals host team Lansing and I leave you know for that game.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Sylvania Pre-Post Heading to USA Nationals in Lansing

It happens every year.  The USA hockey nationals.  Where the best of the best from every state meet and compete for titles.  As we saw last year some times the best game of the event, between the best teams some times is not that final game.  Last year's Team Cleveland #2 Vs. Team Toledo #1 was a semi final.  An epic game that every hockey nut needs to have in their library.  5 17 min Over time stanzas ( a 5 pluss hour long event) for Team Toledo to come out on top, only to fall 8 hours later in the final against the Hatfield Ice dogs.  Sylvania toppled the number #1 Team Cleveland this year to earn their birth at Nationals. Sylvania begins play against the defending Champions, the Hatfield Ice Dogs.

 Sylvania is coached by none other NW Ohio great Mike Mankowski.  While head coach at Toledo St. Johns, Mike established the Titans as one of the most respected teams in the state with several trips to the Championship.  Mike matriculated to the NCAA Div1 game coaching first with Canisius College where he was an assistant coach, and then to BGSU where he served as interim coach in that programs darkest hours helping to save the program.  Mike is now the Hockey Director at Sylvania, and has taken the volunteer based youth programs and applied the USA Hockey ADM and is operating what is likely one of the best if not the best programs in the state.  Mike is assisted by none other Bob Felser one of the states top power skating and puck handling instructors. 

The Sylvania team is made up names you know, and names you need to know.  Mike established a group of high caliber players from the area schools.  They also have good chemistry and have had the ability to put school rivalry issues aside as they came together as a team.
#2 Spencer Calcamuggio
#3 Ryann Rapp
#4 Kyler Omey
#5 Jimmy Scott
#6 Josh Cline
#8 Matt Opblinger
#9 Reid Kersey
#10 Zach Felser
#11 Josh Eubank
#12 Andy Martin
#13 Brady Storer
#14 Dominck Horvath
#15 Sheldon Meyers
#17 Dalton Carter
#18 Reid Mankowski
#19 Matt Young
#20 Brent Easton
#21 Kyle Kuhr
#30 Nate Gay
#31 Alex Wooley

Some quick highlight players from this roster.  One of the best goalies in the state, I personally rank him as #2 and honestly it for me it comes down personal preference #30 Nate Gay from BGHS.  Nate is a big 6'4" wet sponge.  Pucks just stick to him, and in this modern age where over 70% of all goals scored are second and third efforts,  you can see why the net belongs to Nate Gay.  #31 Alex Woolley is no slouch, another good sized goalie at 6'1" out of Findlay.  Defensively at the core here, there are 3 blueliner from the State Championship Northview Wildcats.  #'s 4, 13 and 20  Kyler Omey, Brady Storer and Brint Easton. This corps is tough as nails, so we look past the physicality they bring, and say they can all pass, shoot and skate with anyone, and proved it this year.  Then you add to this mix a pair of  Titan's in  Sophmore #14 Dominick Horvath  and Jr. #3 Ryann Rapp.  Key elements of Mike Hayes District final runners up squad, young, head and strong with loads of experience.  In 2010-2011 Team Toledo went 31-5-0(225 goals for, 73 against) they played a full schedule, Team Cleveland went 17-7-1 (117 Goals For- 49 against).  This year Sylvania enters the tourney ranked 30th, having played 18 games, (54 goals for, and 46 against). Team Cleveland this year played 13 AAA teams from the NAPHL and High performance Hockey League, went 14-7-3 117 goals for and 67 against.  Loosing to Sylvania 4-2.  At a point when most of the offensive weapons were just beginning establish themselves as team leaders.  Sylvania's 30 ranking is not fully justified, due in large  part to a lack of data.  So should we extrapolate a bit and take in to account that the Northview crew on this team played and beat handily this year, the Araphoe warriors, Littleton Hawks, Geneva Cyclons and Wheaton West HS, that members from the titan contingent beat some heady MI High schools.  We begin to see why and how this Sylvania team is under rated entering the contests this week.

The Bracket for Sylvania.  Sylvania opens on March 28 at 6pm on Suburban Rink 1 against defending Champions Hatfield Ice dogs, currently ranked 4th.
Then on the 29th at Summit arena (NHL sheet) 2 pm against the Dallas Penguins ranked 48th
On the 30th Sylvania plays at 10am again on the summit NHL rink against tournament Host Lansing Capitals ranked 140th
Following pool play (Sylvania is in the National Pool with Lansing, South Shore, Chicago Bruins, Hatfield, Littleton, Dallas and Hudson Valley.)   on the 31st we will see the 4 seed National team play 1 seed American at 10 am, 2 seed National vs 3 American, 1 National vs 4 American and 3 National Vs 2 American.  Winners will advance to semi finals where the teams who win N2/A3 vs winner A1/N4 at 6 pm on the 31st and on rink 2 at 6 pm Winners of A2/N3 vs Winner N1/a4
the Championship follows at 12:30 on April 1st.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

"Dear Hockey Player" =spam

I am sure you have all received emails that speak to you as "Hockey Player".  So why would you give your money to some one who did not take the time to know your name?  The letter surely also includes some lingo to the effect that you have been recommended.  Really?  By whom?  I have scoured every scouting resource, up to and including the central scouting lists.  Would you believe there is not one Hockey Player on those lists.  Hard to imagine.  LoL

Listen, we all want the best for our kids.  But you have step back and have a few moments of pause along the way.  We live in a day and age where any half wit coach can get his grubby hands on a mailing list.  Because your player is a minor his name is not on that list.  (This actually far more hilarious when these young men are legal adults, playing AAA, D1 prep's, or Jr's with NCAA commitments ).  These letters go on to promise exposure to scouts and all the right things.  So ask yourself.  Why would you pay, lol..the low early bird registration participate in a try out for a showcase team.  That if you are then actually selected for, you must pay more to play on.  When you could just as easily work with an area coach, who knows the talent, and put a team together yourself and go play for less than half of what coach Half Wit is doing.  Have  a better more competitive experience.  The answer is simple, just say NO.  Did you ever respond to Ed McMahon's letters saying you won a millions....if you just respond to the letter?

So here you go.  People have asked.  What can we do?  So here are two 100% legit activities that deliver in droves.  Your dollar will be used for the enrichment of your player.  Operated by and associated with a long list of the best the sport has to offer.  They will develop, challenge,  and get any athlete not name Hockey Player, exposure. 

First Contact Hockey

Amateur Hockey Report Showcases (Buffalo, Detroit & Chicago)

I have referred to the above, because I have gone to watch players at these events over the years.  I families that have been and they just do not over promise.  I am not paid, by either organization.  I am just tired of seeing people get hustled, when all they are trying to do is help their child reach for their dreams. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sylvania WINS first State Title and BGSU is in the CCHA semi finals at the Joe

Ed's 11 shots on goal and some 4 quality chances all turned away by Gryca.
Northview strikes first blood at 13:45 of the first period.  Sylvania Goal Estrel from Felzer, a goal that found the back of the net on the ice threw a gaping 5 hole.  
Ed's mounted a nice attack but to no avail.   As with 23 sec remaining Sylvania's Zach Felzer who drew the Eds goalie to him with his hard move right.  Then slides the puck over to a wide open back door man Estrel for his second of the game.   What a pair, what a line Koback ,Estrel and Felzer.  Hands vision skating and hockey sense.   Quite possible one of my favorites lines of all time.  This Sylvania team is really putting on a seminar of how quality youth programs, and coaching develop these skill players.

The second period had its ebb and flow, total shots at the end of two Eds 17 and Sylvania 1.
Sylvania  finds the net again.  Crandall, Carter & Laplant line was applying pressure.
This goal was exceptionally soft and was shot by drew Crandall right along the goal line.
Ed's goalie was  not any where near sealed up.   Showing why and how the puck goes in when you take shots, and why goalies have to be detail oriented.  We end the period with st Ed's appearing frustrate.

Taking a bad penalty is Geib.  I am personally frustrated by the no calls by the officials on St. Ed's players who are on every hit, and at every turn making hits to the heads of Sylvania players.  A lack of discipline, and sportsmanship.  Eds seemingly did little home work before this game as Sylvania is not easily rattled.  Brad Wadsworth stood up tall for his goalie as Ed's takes some unsporting post whistle swipes at Gryca.  Further sadness finds the fans doing some unmentionables, in the air of youth championship.  I love wild fans, but...  It is further evident that while Sylvania may only spend an hour and half a day on the ice, that their physical conditioning program is second to none.  Following a professional, modern hockey conditioning program that rivals that of NCAA d1 programs.  A year of sweat and pain is paying off in droves for this Jones team.

The third was all Eds on the attack trying repeat past performances. Ending with 31 shots on goal and finding the net twice.  Ed's comes up short well short in this contest.  The Eds team played as best they could, and reached the finals on a long road.  Not a favorite in any respect.  They played with grit and determination to reach the championship.  They were out witted and just plainly out skilled.  Sylvania enjoyed not only the best goalie tandem in the State, but the best goalie ever in the State with Austin Gryca, 4 year starter, and dare I say some insain defensive pairings and an all go no stop group of forwards. 

The wildcats are the best team ever in school history, and I would challenge in State as well.  Deep and skilled.  The names: Marsh, Koback, Geer, Omey, Dewitt, Koback, Mustapha, Sudlow, Estrel, Simon, Carter, Crandall, Wadsworth, Laplant, Rau, Foti, Easton, Storer, Galecki, Carter, Clement, Felzer, Gryca and Bowles.  Forever will be the names associated with this Championship.

Part two came later this evening.  Its some Ohio MOJO, but the BGSU Falcons back stopped by Andrew Hammond, and on the wings of Dan DeSalvo's hat trick are headed back to the JOE.  Playing in the CCHA semi finals.  The Falcons have been on fire since ending the CCHA season in last place.  Yes last place and on fire in the same sentence.  The CCHA has been the most competitive college conference this year, holding as many as 9 of the top 20 spots  at various times this season.  The Falcons play the University of Michigan on Friday the 16th A match up that is historically favorable to the Falcons.  Coach Bergeron is credited for playing a leading role in the creation of the current competitve Miami Red Hawks team.  A team which is lead by former Sylvania Northview star Alden Hirschfeld.  Hockey is just hot in Ohio.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Championship

Quite the day of hockey at the black hole (Nationwide know the arena used to house 20,000 cheering NHL fans with a 110db audio system.  That is grossly over-sized for Ohio HS hockey's 2000-3000 fans. )  The High Noon draw was an epic battle.  It went down as well as a movie scripted action thriller.  Ed's experience and prowess showed why they are the top team coming out of Cleveland.  Falling behind by 2 did not phase this crew.  They stuck with their game and played on.  Played on to 3 unanswered goals to win the day. 

The 3pm tilt saw the new comers Olentangy Orange and Sylvania Northview.   Sylvania just owned the day.  Shooting at will, and preventing all but one quality scoring chance which was still foiled.  This was great for the Capital District new comers.  A lot of experience comes from this first run.  A first run in only 4 years of hockey.  I expect to see this crew contending on a regular basis.  Sylvania advances.

Game time...11am.

BGSU Falcons

Its been a long time coming.  These Falcons have been developing since the kick off The Bring Back the Glory campaign.  The restoration and re-elevation of the BGSU hockey program to National prominence. 
They are the last place team of the CCHA.  Playing hard all season, developing the skills and bonds to become successful.  The Rink has numerous renovations to elevate that storied barn, back to a top facility.  Which when full, with 5000 fans and with the low metal ceiling is second to none as far home ice advantage is concerned.
The Falcons are now finding themselves in quite the interesting position.  Repeating last seasons CCHA first round victory over Northern Mi last weekend.  The team made their way to Big Rapids, to face the #2 Nationally ranked Ferris State Bulldogs.  The Falcons won last night.  They played with that "Never give up, never surrender" mentality that the great teams in Falcon history all posesed.  Youngmen, like Ryan Carpenter skating with confidence.  Bryce Williamson, who played for former Falcon legend Greg Parks and the St. Albert Steel of the AJHL, setting records.  Found his stride and is skating with vengeance.  Andrew Hammond playing possessed in the net nearly cracking the single game save record. 
The interesting position here is that the Falcons have found themselves one win away from returning the Joe.  The CCHA championships.  A place BGSU has not been in to long a time.  I think its appropriate here to quote Herb Brooks.  You see what he said about his Olympic team was that it is not about the best players.  It is about the right players.  Its also about the right coaches.  There are no former NTDP players on BGSU's roster.  Some exceptional players, all of whom wanted to be Falcons.  Thats the key.  These players and these coaches wanted to be Falcons.  Thats the foundation of bringing back the glory.  Wanting to win for yourself, your team, your school, the alumni.  Writing your own history.  Not being drowned by that of those who came before you, but eclipsing them at every turn.
Good Luck Falcons.

Semi Finals and Championship games

The  four remaining  teams (University School, St Edwards, Olentangy Orange and Sylvania Northview) play today's Semi Final games.  Which are available to anyone with Direct TV and Chanel 662 Sports Time Ohio.  The television airings of these games are at 7pm EST for the St. Edwards- University semi final.  9pm EST for the Olentangy - Sylvania game
The Championship game will be aired Sunday at 5pm EST participants TBD

These games are live today at Nationwide arena at Noon, and 3pm EST.  The Championship is puck drop is at 11am Sunday.
Glimpses of some game footage, with links I found.
St Eds footage

Northview Hockey season highlights

Friday, March 9, 2012

One on One- with Coach Tim Pennington Olentangy Orange

 Scouting Ohio High School Hockey is One on One with Coach Tim Pennington.  Coach Pennington and Olentangy Orange  are making thier first trip to states, and the program is only 4 years young!  Earning respect at every turn.  Lets dive in.

1.  What does this accomplishment to the school and community?

Coach Pennington-  We are such a young school, being only 4 years old, its starts to build a tradition.

2.  What do think this about your local youth programs and the steadily growing strength in your conference?

Coach Pennington-  The youth programs are doing well and any success we have will help contribute to that.

3.  I follow the www.Myhockeyrankings. com  In those  my hockey rankings your, Orange team is ranked 19th, with a PWR rating of 9.35.    Based on these numbers your boys are looking ahead at the toughest contests they have had all season.  Facing first the #2 ranked Sylvania Wildcats who have a PWR rating of 13.24, and potentially the winner of the #3 ranked St. Edwards and #4 ranked University School (PWR ratings 12.27 and 12.26 respectively.)  What are you doing to prepare your boys for these contests, having not seen any of these teams in the regular season?

Coach Pennington-  Like every other game we need to bring the effort on every shift to compete especially against the top ranked teams

4. Nationwide is a gigantic 21,000 arena.  I totally dislike the environment to the point where I do not hide calling it a life sucking void.  Nationwide is far to large a venue for these games.  Your team has  great fans, and great community support. That energy has really propelled your players.  What are you doing to cope with or to bring that energy with you?

Coach Pennington-  We have played regular season games there before so we are familiar with it.

5. This an extremely special moment for any team, any player, any coach and any fan.  For the Pioniers this has even more meaning, doesn't it?

Coach Pennington-  Yes, I would say so again because we are such a young school

6.  Early questions elude to you being the "underdogs".  Its been that way since Findlay and BGHS joined the NHC.  I believe the tag "underdog" is fueling your team to some degree, isnt it?  Even going 34-8-1.

Coach Pennington-  We relish the role of being the underdogs.

7.  Lets talk about your players, and since teams are built from the net out we start there.  You have had some exceptional goal-tending this season, what do you have to say about your goalies? 

Coach Pennington-  All 3 of our goalies have been excellent all year.  They are a big part of why we are here.

8. Goalies can not do it alone, a very respectable 72 goals against, and having shut out the likes of Gilmour, who leads this the blue liners for you?

Coach Pennington-  All of our defense contributes equally.  A true team effort out there.

9. 161 goals for.  161.  that is more than respectable, your forwards have put up points in all but one  contest.  Who are your FWD leaders, and looking ahead to the future, how many of these young men are returning next season?

Coach Pennington-  We feel that we have 3 lines that can score.  We lose a few guys this year but we have some talented underclassmen coming in next year

10. In looking at some numbers Sylvania has what many consider to be the best defense in the state.  Coupled with  a goal-tending tandem, that is allowing only 1.38 goals per game, and offense that is averaging 4.5 goals a game.  What have you seen on film, or heard?  Do you see some chinks in this Sylvania team that look ripe for the taking? 

Coach Pennington- I don't think I see any weakness in their game.  It will obviously be a tough task for us but we will give it our best shot

Coach thank you for you time on the eve of the semi final game.  I hope to spend some time with you and your program heading in to next season and get an inside like look at your Pioneers.

Changes coming to US Jr Hockey

Early information on the future "look" of US Jr hockey is trickling out.  This trickling of information, is leading many to see this as a bright new future.  The current composition and tier system has many, including "experts" confused.  Confused, as to what the the tiers really mean, the hard segmentation of leagues and so on, why if this kid is so good is he playing in x league and not y, which usually inappropriately is tier related.  All of which spills over on the families, and players as they make the shift from either AA, AAA or High School hockey.  The current composition has pockets of leagues around the country.   Which adds  whole lot of conjecture as to what is good jr hockey.  When quite simply good Jr hockey is about developing players.  Some are best suited to begin in one league over another because it is a better match for their abilities.

What is so exciting?  We see a Nationalized look, taking shape from what I gather.  The USHL will have a presence in each of the 4 United States Regions.  Currently  the 16 USHL teams are located in the Mid West.  The Eastern most team is the Youngstown Phantoms of Youngstown Ohio.  The Western Most team Omaha Lancers, of Omaha Nebraska.  Other teams found as far south as Indianapolis to the north where we see Fargo.  The 2014-2015 season is when the transformation matters to players.  Teams from Portland Maine down to New York-New Jersey that currently compose the Eastern Junior Hockey League or with the addition of Portland (taking an Atlantic Junior Hockey League to the EJHL for 2012-2013) will compose this USHL East division. Some 4 to as many as 6 or 7 teams is what I am seeing when all is said and done.  Skip Prince USHL Comishioner is quoted as saying the league would be strong with 26 teams.

What is not being reported as heavily is, but again in small broken tidbits, is that some 14 teams applied to join the USHL.  We know who are east coast players as mentioned above, so who are these others?  Welcome  the USHL South Western Conference, as I refer to it.  Hockey is booming in the south west.  Look for several NAHL south Members to make the move in 2014, add in the potential Denver-ish, and maybe California, maybe Las Vegas squad.   I can Commissioner Prince's USHL.  A strong vibrant 26 teams, where we may see 27 with Team USA's two teams each playing independent USHL schedules.  A league with the expanded 64 game schedual.  The tradition of the Fall Classic remaining a mid west venue.  The addition of a USHL winter Showcase, where the newly formed USHL east plays host, and converts one of the EJHL showcases to a USHL venue, where they annually draw now at one event scouts from all the 100 NCAA teams in the Northeast on up to the NHL.  This would likely become the big event of the year.

Now some are saying that this will water down the league.   This though has lead some early sceptics to  counting "credible" players from each league and region etc.  Which not at all accurate.  Others are speaking to fan base and how the east coast has none.  That is spot on, but the east coast owners know their market, and do not care.  THey have adapeted operating models that work for them.  Where travel is concerned for them the longest drive they have now is maybe 4 hours.  I do not see based on this direction the USHL having all teams play each other, all season as they do now.  Further the USHL is going younger.  Example, this year USHL teams are allowed something to the tune of 4 91's, 8-92's and 2 imports(that have to be counted by birth-year as well).  What we are likely to see is an import increase to 4.  The league is going younger as well so figure a reduction of older players.  Say for 2012-2013 instead of 4 92's and 8 93's teams are only allowed 2 92's and 6 93's with 4 imports.  Keep in mind the USHL brought back tenders this year.  Where by any 96 Tendered to a team, may not be locked in on the Futures Roster, but gets an automatic 55% of games which equals 35 games and must be on the Roster all year, no trades. No team is going to put 35 games of experience into a kid and shelf him the remainder of the season. This tells you the kids not only have to be good, but the team has to have done their home work, and the players are ready for this highest level.  Tenders are not cheap.  The cost of the Tender is a First round pick for the first.  The Second Burns the second round pick of the draft.  Again some claim the kids are to young.  No.  Look at major JR.  This is what the USHL is going after in a sense.  Retaining the best players in the world, and grooming them for College.  I believe there is also a move here to make NCAA teams younger.  Currently the average age of hockey freshman is 20.3.  My guess is that is going to driven down to 19.  Lets face it, if a kid is good enough to get a commitment his first year of Jr's to an NCAA program.  It safe to assume that after one additional season he will be ready.  So if you have the best 15, 16, 17, 18 year olds in the USHL.  They should be well groomed for NCAA play by 19.  Further evidence is the move to "remove" fighting from Jr hockey.  The move will not ban the act, but the penalty will follow suit with the NCAA as it does in the EJHL.  The modern game is about skill.  There is a need for enforcers at every level, including AA 16 to High School.  But the use of the skill is different than the scripted matches we so often see now.

Speaking about College hockey.  There was a massive shift this year.  Its not over.  No, I dont mean we should expect any major announcements right now.  Just that there are numerous other institutions looking at following the self endowment model.  These are not just the schools with D3 programs now.  These are those name brand schools, with deeper than not pocketed alumni.  I see a very large B10 hockey conference.  I see some southern schools, as I look out 10-15 years.

There is also some contraction in Tier II the NAHL is adjusting down in numbers.  The Wenatchee Wild, an Alaska based NAHL team.  Meet with the BCHL (British Columbia Hockey League) commissioner on the 7th.  The Wild are exasperated by their 900 mile shortest road trip.  That is right 900 miles, Toledo Ohio to Freeport Maine, or Toledo Ohio to Kerney Nebraska, or Toledo Ohio to Jacksonville Florida is what that equates to in lower 48 terms.  Jr Hockey players adjust, but this is understandable, that is nuts, very expensive.  The BCHL has  accepted the WIld in 2013, but the Wild want and honestly need in now.  Seemingly the Wild will play next season in the NAHL if they do not get approved for the BCHL.  The Ownership group does have a spot for a team next year in JOHNSTOWN PA(note the eastern movement trend).

 Now it gets more nuts for the NAHL.  I spoke of contraction.  That is more than one team.  The MI Warriors are not playing next year, nor will the St Louis Bandits.  The Fresno Monsters, Alaska Avalanche, and Dawson Creek Rage going dormant as well.  Dormancy is for all intensive purposes folding, and displacing players, while the owners look for other options.  The West division is currently home to Fresno, Wenatchee, Alaska, Kenai, Fairbanks and Dawson Creek.  The West will be left with only Kenai, and Fairbanks.  The Two teams will be joining the NAHL South.  Yes.  South.   Playing Amarillo Texas, Corpus Christi, Topeka, New Mexico, Wichita, and Texas.  The Alaska teams will be SUBSIDIZING travel costs for those teams.  That wont last long.  Those two teams are rumored to be looking at joining the BCHL as well, or relocating ( Buffalo NY anyone?)  There is alot going on.  There always is.  Its the high and low of JR hockey.

But the exciting part is we are seeing a move toward some kind of a National look.  East coast kids, Midwest, Southern, South West, and West Coast kids all playing in the same leagues and at the year some great playoffs.  Today, we must sit back and watch it all pan out over the next weeks and months

Thursday, March 8, 2012

One on One

One on One with Sylvania Wildcats head coach Mike Jones

Coach Jones, thank you for taking the time to join me on the scoutingohiohighschoolhockey blog.

1.  Heading in to the weekends semi final round, your Wildcats are wearing a big bulls-eye.  Top seeded and heavily favored to win your school's first title.  You've been the dance once, in your short tenure at your alma mater.  Where you lost in the finals to St. Ignatius.  What are this weeks preparations like?

Coach Jones-  I don't know about heavy favorite by any stretch. There's four great teams going down there, we'll be fortunate just to be playing on Sunday.

2.  Sylvania is ranked 2nd in the  human poll, and more importantly 2nd in the Myhockey rankings with a pwr rating of 13.24.  A full point higher than any other team and 4pts higher than your semi final opponent Olentangy Orange.  Add in you hold a 3 pt average goal differential and have racked up 156 goals for against some stiff competition and only allowed 47 .  Are you and your staff confident heading in the to weekend?

Coach Jones-We don't pay attention to numbers. We're confident if we prepare well and give our best, we have as good a shot as any.

3.  Orange has to their credit taken ownership of the dark horse position this year.  They score, they block shots, and have proven they beat teams that on paper they just do not match up against.  Does this scare you, their ability to just win games?

Coach Jones-Of course it makes you think, that's one heck of a hockey club. As I stated earlier, we've got our hands full.

4.  What are you thinking its going to take bring home a state title to the NHC again this year?

Coach Jones-A lot of work mixed with a lot of luck.

5.  You would'nt be in this position with out this team, and teams are built from the net out, with a leading low 47 goals against we  start there.  Tell me about goal-tending and your goal-tending coaches?

Coach Jones-Two seniors that work hard and push each other. I have the luxury of having not one, but two goalie coaches that are the best in the state.

6.  Your a former blue-liner, with a lot of current experience at all levels with the modern defensive game.  A game, which seemingly only now people are giving the due credit to in all of hockey's circles as being the key component to low scores.  Not big goalies, athletic goalies, big goalie gear, or nets that are to small.  People are seeing its the blue-liners.  How deep is your defensive core?

Coach Jones- It's deep, deeper than we have slots for. If they do there thing, we'll be doing quite well.

7.  Forwards.  The guys who are most recognized for amassing the goals that win games.  The Wildcats have 156 heading in to the semi finals.  Not the most, or the least in the state as whole.  Your forwards are also noted for being your first line of defense.  Who are your leaders out there, and why are they so good in all three zones?

Coach Jones- They're all leaders because they've bought into their roles. It takes a unit of 12 up there.

Coach Jones best of luck this weekend to you and your Wildcats.  Thank you for your time.
John Holt

USA hockey National Team Development Program 2012 camp invitees

First before posting the whole list, another congratulation for Nick Magyar.  The Mentor Ohio, Ohio State University, NCAA d1 hockey committed player.
U17 (96's)

Pos Name
F Paul Bittner
F Anders Bjork
F Blake Clarke
F Kyle Connor
F Christian Dvorak F Scott Eansor
F Jack Eichel
F Jared Fiegl
F Dylan Gambrell F Shane Gersich
F Will Harrison
F Ryan Hitchcock F Laythe Jadallah F Alex Jasiek
F Dylan Larkin
F Ryan MacInnis
F Nick Magyar
F Seamus Malone F Sonny Milano
F Tyler Nanne
F Dylan Pavelek
F Liam Pecararo
F J.J. Piccinich
F Nolan Stevens
F Ryan Tait
F Alex Tuch
F Joe Wegwerth
F Chris Wilkie

D Adam Baughman D Louis Belpedio
D Nathan Billitier
D Ryan Bliss

D Brandon Carlo D Ryan Collins D Luke Davison D Jack Glover
D Joshua Jacobs
D Kevin Kerr
D Jake Linhart
D Duncan MacIntyre

D Johnathan MacLeod
 D Ryan Mantha
D Blake Siebenaler 
D Peter Tischke
D Jack Walker
D Cooper Watson 

D Joshua Wesley

G Chris Birdsall 
G Logan Halladay 
G Joseph Lissak 
G Ed Minney
G Chase Perry
G Blake Weyrick

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Final Four-Oh me, oh my.

 Saturday March 10, 2012 semifinal game one is at noon.  Game is University School (#3) Vs. St. Ed's (#5).  Game two is scheduled for 3pm and features Sylvania Northview (#2) Vs. Olentangy Orange (#19).  Based on the brackets entering in to the finals, I would have to say that this year, while there were no changes to implement any sort seeding, that if there had been, it came out right.  While if the OHSAA were a broken clock, they would be a worthless digital (not even right twice a day).  This looks good.  Reseeding would have placed the schools remaining 1. Northview, 2. St. Ed's 3. University School, and 4. Orange.  

So what the heck happened?   I think its a combination of performance peaks, rivalry games, resilience, team chemistry, experience and the ability to win.  Playoffs are playoffs and as messed up and totally backward as the Ohio State Athletic Association is, these are playoffs.  The cream rises to the top, and while its limited to the cream in that cup, its still cream, and its four cups.

So just between us...I dont gamble for a reason, and would never on the big games.  My record at this point, from this last round, while still better than the state is at operating High School Hockey, is not good.  There are upsets every, twists, turns and jagged edges.  This year they were sprung late. I honestly had Ignatius playing University school, and Northview playing Jerome (after my real, real pick of Liberty died).  What are my picks now, you ask.  Well, don't place any bets on my account, but here is what I see. 

 In the high noon contest between University School and St. Ed's I am going with St. Ed's.  This is an older and just better team that is finishing right.  This is St. Ed's year, they Kyle Kruger G a SR, Christopher Day D a Sr, Mick Bartholomew F a Sr, Alec Gerred F SR, Nicolas Crosby F Sr, Alex Norton D a Sr, Brett Glover F a Sr, Thomas Mirabelli F Sr, Matt Geib D Sr,  CJ Hoy F Sr, Josh Greenaker D sr, Richard Slaght F Sr, Ted Price SR, Logan Galati G sr, Andrew Smith G Sr.  St. Ed's was in the final last year and lost an OT battle with another giant, St. Francis, look at it 2009 semi finals, 2011 finals, and Champions in 2008.  This is St. Ed's 20th(11 First Place titles, King if you will) trip to the states final four.  Eclipsing Bowling Green (19) (5 #1) They are also the team that just iced the team I say was the best ever in state history (that never made the final 4, cant be the best if you cant finish).  University is no slouch when it comes to the final four.  Nine trips and 2 titles of their own.  University School has a better power rating of 12.17 to Ed's 12.06.  University School has tallied 110 goals, and allowed 73, Ed's has tallied 98 goals and given up 77.  University School is fully equipped with players like Wipper and Judson (one of the best blue liners in the state) and the big strong Forward DeGulis to win this game. I have to pick and  Its Ed's for me.   

That 3pm game finds us looking at Orange Vs. Northview.  Orange and Northview never played each other this season, add in I never personally saw them play, so I find myself looking to some common opponents.  Findlay jumps out, a 3-2 loss.  Gilmour- a 2-0 win, Dublin Jerome 5-2 win, 2-5 loss, 1-4 loss, and the recent OT win.  Humm, not a lot to go on.  A state ranking of 19th, a power rating of 9.34.  Northview is #2 has a power rating of 13.24, 1.7 pts behind St Ignatus and 1.09 pts ahead of University School and 1.11 pts ahead of St. Ed's.  Goals For, Orange 163, 156 Northview.  Goals against 73 Orange and 47 Northview.  My assessment makes me think the Dark Horse Olentangy Orange has been playing at their best, peaked.  Great timing.  A hard fought path, the OT win and now playing in the state semifinals.  I am backing the team that has to be favored here.  Northview.  Northview is living on a goalie rotation, its worked for them to this point, it generally doesnt work especially with short seasons like you see in High School and in NCAA hockey.  I dont see how Northview looses this game, with out coming out on the ice down with illness, injury, or just plain not mentally ready.  Northview, the school with 8 trips, and 4 brides maid dresses.  This year they hit the playoffs with a core of Sr's who have some big stage experience.

* Added on MARCH 7-
It just dawned on me, but I never gave my full prediction.  Saturday Game One Winner St Ed's.  Game Two Sylvania.
State Champions?  Well I love St Ed's experience, and team this year.  Ed's did just knock off St. Ignatius.  I am picking Sylvania to win the championship.  Sylvania beat both Ed's and U.S this year.  Sylvania is playing consistently good hockey, if Sylvania is going to win a state title this is the team to do it.

State Finals are scheduled for Sunday March 11 at the early hour of 11 am.
*In the life sucking void of Nation Wide area.  The 20,000 seat NHL venue that sees, a total of 6,000 for all three games.  OHSAA you really need to match the venue to the event.  Yes, Nation Wide is nice, but its to damn big.  Covelli, Hunting, Goggin, Kent State, and Bowling Green all come to mind as being far better suited to the event, and would be wise to just rotate the venue.