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Monday, January 23, 2012

1-23-12 Weekend scores and updates, thoughts and conjecture

Looking back on this past weekend beginning in the east.  We find the strongest team state, Cleveland St. Ignatius just keeps on rolling.  The Wildcats are the best team in the state, even with sad loss of one of the most prolific goal scorers in the State, Mile McQuinn, who had amassed some 70 pts this season to date.  While the now Jr is out for the remainder of the season with a confirmed Achilles tendon injury, there seems to be no sign of his absence.  Beating Strongsville on the 20th 7-2.  Then battling a surging and highly motivated Lake Catholic squad on the 21st, to a 2-0 victory.  Increasing their season record to now 30-0-0, surrendering just over 40 goals and tallying a massive 185 goals!  Having three regular season games to go averaging over 6 goals per game the Wildcats may top 200 goals in the regular season.  Then you look ahead to the Barron Cup, the district tournament and a likely State title and this team has to potential to approach nearing 300 goals.  Amazing.

The Cougars just may be getting hot.

Lake Catholic Cougars lead by Head Coach Ryan OKicki are a team deserving of a watchful eye.  Okicki is a young, modern and determined head coach and graduate of Lake Catholic.  League play in his rookie year driving the Cougars see's a slow start.  Loosing to Ignatius 7-2, Shaker 3-2, U.S 4-2, Strongsville 2-1 and St Ed's 4-1.  We then see things turning around in January following the loss to St. Eds.  The Cougars beat Padua 6-2, and then Shaker 4-1, and battle St. Ignatius in a 2-0 loss.  Much improved.  These past successful games are leading me to believe these Cougars are getting what coach Okicki is asking them to do on the ice.  I am predicting this Lake team will drop only one of their 3 remaining league games and finish in 3rd place in the Red North division.  Third place is will be great position for the Cougars.  3rd puts the emerging Lake Catholic squad in an ideal position to reach the finals of the Barron cup, where if they continue tracking as they have been, may be able to upset St. Ignatius in a Barron Cup final.  Holding the Wildcats recently to 2 goals when they have been averaging over 6 goals per game is huge.  The Cougars may win if they play to perfection.

The other Wildcat's

On the western edge of Ohio.  The Sylvania Northview Wildcat's packed their gear and headed to Indianapolis.  Where they played two of that states top 10 teams.  Sylvania rolled in to the Forum at Fishers and defeated Hamilton 5-1, seeing scoring from Dalton Carter 2, Ian Clement, Drew Crandall and Cody Estrel.   The following day, Sylvania came out and defeated Cathedral Chatard 6-3.  The game was a highly contested battle up until the 3rd session where Sylvania exploded to a win.  Sylvania now stands at 24 W, 1 L, 2T.  Sylvania heads in to the final 4 games of North West Ohio Red Division game play leading the league 4-0.  Toledo St. Johns is hot on the Wildcat's tail now sitting at 6-1 having just defeated Bowling Green and shutting out Findlay.  The Titan's are poised well to Tie Sylvania for the regular season title with a win over the Wildcats this Friday evening.  This is a big rivalry game, and under the guidance of Mike Jones, we have been witness to the Wildcats having  choked when facing the Titans 3 times.  On the flip and giving credit where credit is do, it just could be Mike Hays has Jones number, and out coached Jones at every turn.   Anyway you slice it this is one of those matches you just can not predict an outcome for, and all ill-advised in trying.  So not taking my own advice, I will say the St. Johns Titan run the Cat's threw.  Leaving a steaming gut pile at center ice, as they are found hanging another Cat hide near the mantle as they take the regular season title.

Down South the Capital Hockey Conference

Dublin Jerome sits on top with a 19-9-1 record and is in my head, based upon the current state's near perfect execution of a P.C approach to "everyone's a winner".   Where competition in no way is a true representation of the best teams in the state.  That said, it is likely for the runner up down here I would wager that Olenatngy Liberty, may contend for that position, and could well launch to a state semi final match.  Now considering that Dublin Jerome did just convincingly beat Sylvania only a few weeks back in a tournament, where all parties come championship time, opted to grossly alter who played who.  Something that leaves me scratching my head.  Imagine that New England opted to not play  the Giants in the Superbowl and the Giants instead played Pittsburgh and New England played the Packers in another game.  It would be very odd, confusing and disappointing.   

More Cleveland Red South

The Cleveland Red south finds its strength in Walsh Jesuit and Rocky River, this year.  While Walsh is leading in points at this point I predict Rocky River and that scoring machine will take the day.  Holding 54 goals for and surrendering only 16.  Rocky River is in league play in Cleveland is only being out produced by St. Ignatius.  St. Ignatius is at 56 GF and 11 against.  Since being loosing to Hudson 602 back on Dec 11th.  Rocky River has on to humiliate Walsh Jesuit 7-0,  Mentor 10-2, Elyria Catholic 11-1, Holy Name 5-3, and Holy Name again 7-2.  Ridding a 5 game wining streak into this coming Jan 28th contest again against Walsh. 
Now are we seeing the most competitive Red South division on record? No, its clear some of the usual suspects are just not playing the kind of hockey we know them to be capable of playing.  Are we seeing a reemergence of a former Ohio HS hockey contender ?  Seemingly so, but we need to see this seasons success carry over another season or two and there has to be clear success against that loaded Red North.
Where the state title is considered

None the less we will see a equal representation of all four districts in states again.  Having the OHSSA demonstrating an  inability to grasp how to properly  establish two state divisions, two state titles and how to fairly allow every team to contend for said titles, guaranteeing the best teams in the state are not contending for said titles is a destiny we will continue to face, untill coaches, player and parents demand the OHSSA establish an arm for hockey, operated by those people who posses a competence in hockey.  
Am I harping on this, am I preaching?  You bet, a spade is a spade.  I have no issue with each conference champion being admitted for contention, at any level, that achievement is a mark of distinction.  Those teams have earned it.  I do believe that barring any end of regular season tie breakers, that title should be crowned once earned.  Advancing then to a 16 team play off.  The four conference winners each playing home ice host to 3 other teams determined by state rank.  Where the winners emerge to state semi finals. Semi finals and finals to be held anywhere but energy and life sucking void of an arena known as Nation Wide area, its just to damn big a barn for these games.
It is clear OHSSA has a lot of work to do.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ohio High School Prospects rankings

In ranking Ohio's prospects I use the following System:
A+= Tier I JrA- NCAA D1 prospect
A =Tier I Jr A or Tier II impact, Tier III EJHL.  D1-D3 prospect
B+=   Tier II top 4-9 Fwd 4-7d Tier III EjHL-Empire  AAA  
B= Tier II Tier III Impact who if not over age could be well advised to polish his game in AAA
B-= Tier III Role Player, AAA

A+ 2 total
1. Patric Spellacy-  Forward.  Team Cleveland St. Ignatius. # 8.  Size and Speed required to succeed  in a USHL- BCHL environment, under the right transitional conditions, even has Major Jr upsides.  His hockey IQ is equal to the challenges as is his nose for the net and quality of shot.  Paddy being 6'4" and 210lbs is quite explosive for his considerable size, he has a soft touch and uses his size and abilities to posess the puck very well.  His size, balance and strength make him  hard to knock off the puck but will need compensate at the next level for players more skilled. His physical composition needs much development, and a serious off ice training regimen.  His game does suffer where and when he is afforded little to no space, and with his size he has far to much avoidance of the hard areas.   He can and does shoot make use of his  quick hard shot from anywhere and every where on the ice.  Spellacy has the skill and potential to  find himself playing for a quality USHL - BCHL team next year and developing, or as instantaneous impact player in the NAHL-EJHL-OJHL.   BGSU, Miami, and Ohio State should be paying close attention to this home grown talent.  I can however easily see plugging Paddy in to  an  Irish line up some day.

2. Zach Felser.  Position C-Fwd.  Sylvania Northview #27  Height 5' 9" 150lbs, shot right.   Zach has a pair the most edges I have ever seen, tied to a set of hands that will leave NHL scouts drooling.  Zach has a considerable lack of size.  That is if your looking banger, a role that is his.  This kids hockey skills and sense are unreal.  He is fast, he goes to hard areas, he battles, he has a physicality to his game.  But Felser's game is about having the puck on his tape.  When it is, its a thing of beauty, like emerging from black and white to a world of color.  He skates and handles the puck in space, but is utterly amazing when there is none.   He twists would be defenders inside out, or forces them leave more gap.  He shoots, he passes hard and crisp.  He generates offense, in droves. 

A 7 total
1. Austin Gryca.  Position Goalie.  Sylvania Northview.  #30 .  Height 5' 10" 165lbs  Gryca is playing better than ever.  Most all the roughness in his style is gone.  Hard crisp movements, out standing angles and compact economy of motion.  I have been saying and am proud to say he is the best goalie every from Ohio.  His athletic Hybrid style is reminiscent of MSU captain and NCAA title winner Jeff Lerg.  Austins development under coach Snyder exploded.  Austin  has been found further tweaking his game by taking advantage of Post to Post goalie schools, where Jeff Lerg is a co-founder and instructor of Austin.  Gryca has the on and off ice work ethic, attitude and coach ability teams need in net at the JR level.  Austin will have a  positive impact in either a Tier 1 league or thrive in the NAHL.  End of the day he keeps pucks out of the net.

2. Michael Abood- Forward #8 Cleveland St. Ignatius-  Michael has speed, hands and the craftiness expected in a forward ready to make a transition to Jr hockey.  Michael plays a strong game both offensively and defensive.  Does not shy away from the physical game or the hard areas. Will use his explosiveness to make plays, in all 3 zones.  With the puck he takes every inch the opposition gives him. 

3. Dalton Carter- Forward/Defense #25  Dalton is a big strong utility man.  Equally at home on the blue line, or at his primary role of fwd.  Dalton has made dramatic improvements to his skating and the over all impact to his game has been monumental. He needs to continue that commitment to improvement.  His hands and ability to posses the puck are solid.  His hockey IQ is good and developing, while facing new more robust challenges.  Dalton's single greatest attribute is his shot.  It is accurate and  consistently the hardest shot in the state.  Dalton moves the puck crisply and smartly.  He is driven to produce, demanding of himself. His leadership role is very evident, in both his approach to the game and with his team.

4. Liam Geither- Forward Cleveland St Ignatius #12.  A swift skater, with a good fore-check and instinctive shooting.

5. Brady Storer- Defense (offensive Defense) #21 5'10" 175lbs  good skating, good gap good offensive presence and loads of timely physicality.  Good hard shot selection, and good defensive awareness.  Extremely rare to see turned.  A d1 prospect no holds barred

B+ 4 total 
1. Cody Estrell Forward Sylvania Northview #12 SOPHOMORE 5' 9"  170lbs

2. Tyler DeWitt utility-D/f/enforcer Sylvania Northview#5  Junior 5' 11" 195lbs  a monster, formidable size, and strength.  Great frame and filling out nicely.  DeWitt has to work more those first 3 steps and being more explosive.  While fighting is not allowed in HS hockey as a method of dealing cheap shots or for momentum.  Tyler has adapted and plays with in the rules and pounds his opponents with massive timely picture perfect body checks. He just has the instincts to keep his team safe. Tyler keeps a clean house when back in the defensive zone.  He wins his battles and moves the puck.  His speed is good, his skating is good.  He spent time as F this year and was strong presence on the fore-check.  That in turn accelerated his puck handling and sense of time.  He can do both, but I find him at his best on the blue line.

B  10 total
5.  Ian Rapp- Forward, Toldeo St. Johns #9, 1996.  Impressive out of the gate.  Good hockey sense, and two way intensity.  He is adjusting well to the HS game, and we are just now seeing him rediscovery his creativity and flow.  Ian is a much watch young player.

6. Mike Palasics- Forward, Padua #8

7. Christopher Day- Defense, St. Edwards #3

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Rocky River or smooth sailing?

Going over my notes while putting  the finishing touches on what will end up being, not a mid season scouting report, but this seasons only partial public listing of Ohio's Top prospects.  I was not able to meet my self imposed Jan 1 deadline, for personal reasons.  Assembling that list, however;  it came more clear to me why I have had strong feelings about the direction this program is taking.  POINTS.  As I watch players, I often miss the larger game, wins and losses are not why I am there.   I am there to see players and the game issue get lost in the shuffle.  At any rate it is worth noting as teams are living in the shawdows of St. Ignatius and Sylvania Northview, that Rocky Rivers: Max Lurie, Eric Sperli and Tyler Harkins have combined for 86 points so far this season.  Those points come on 38 goals and 36 Assists.  Leading Greater Cleveland in all three statistics. 
Now while we all know nothing in the Greater Cleveland hockey scene is ever smooth sailing, my hat is off in salute to this years team efforts by Rocky River and to these three aggressive forwards.  I hope to see this team grow and really make some noise in this the waning weeks of the season.  Hard to believe isnt it?  The season is on the downhill run now, any stumbles or errors will magnifiyed as Novemenber and Decembers games just faint memories.
The potential for "upsets" grows stronger by the day, as we now face key rivalry games.  Games that make or break momentum.

Sylvania Tier II U18 advances to Nationals

Over the weekend the Sylvania U18 won a tournament in Cleveland Ohio.  Reid Mankowski (BGSH) and Zach Felzer (Sylvania Northview) lead the 18U team in scoring.  Nate Gay (BGHS) was difference maker in between the pipes for the Sylvania Maple Leafs. The Maple Leaf team has qualifyed for the Midget Major AA Nationals following the regular HS season. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

One on One with Bowling Green High School's Reid Mankowski

Today I have great interview with Bowling Green Bobcat forward Reid Mankowski that is posted bellow.  I have found Reid to be one of the smartest, best skating forwards in the state.  A hard worker and relentless competitor.
Reid Mankowski

1. What do you like most about being a hockey player?

Reid-I'd say that my favorite part of being a hockey player is definitely going to practice everyday and having fun while working hard with the guys that I have a lot in common with.  Hockey has been the biggest part of my life forever and I just have a strong passion for the game.

2. What is your pregame ritual?

Reid-I have a few pregame rituals.  I always tape my hockey stick the same way and I pray at a certain time before games.  I do the same stretch with the same playlist on my iPod before every game.

3. What is the first thing you do if you have a good shift?
 Bad shift?

Reid-On a good shift I usually tell my line mates nice shift and say lets do the same thing next shift.  On a bad shift I usually think about what I did and how I'm going to have a better shift next time out.

Reid #18 Grey and Red, firing a shot in a game BGSU ice arena.  BGSU ice arena is the home of Bobcat hockey.

4. What has been like growing up in a family with an easily recognizable
hockey tradition?  In what ways do you believe it has helped your game?

Reid-My father has been a part of the game since way before I was born.  He knows way more about the game than anyone I know which helps significantly.  He sees the game from a spectator viewpoint and always has productive input on how to get better.

5. What are your favorite subjects? List 2 and explain why you enjoy them.

Reid-Math has been my favorite subject for as long as I can remember.  It has always clicked for me and I'm thinking about making math teaching a career.
 Science is my second favorite subject for the same reasons.  It has always clicked and I've always been fascinated with physics and why things are how they are.

6. What do you aspire to become as a professional person. Hockey, no hockey

Reid-I'd like to become a math teacher if hockey doesn't take over my future.  I'd love to be a hockey coach or player but if that doesn't happen then I want to teach math to young or middle age kids. 

7. What is your current GPA, are you taking any honors courses, doing an
volunteer work?

Reid- I have a 3.75 GPA and so far in my first semester of my senior year I have a 4.2 GPA.  Currently, I'm taking an honors geopolitics class and have taking honors English and social studies over the course of high school.  I volunteer with hockey camps and learn to play hockey.

8. Assuming you were fortunate enough to earn a college hockey scholarship,
and then able to pick which school. Who would be on your top 5. Why?

Reid-Michigan, Ohio State, and Miami would be my top three choices.  They are more local and I would get a great education along with playing hockey for a division one hockey team.  Four and five would be Boston University or Boston College.  I've always been a fan of both of these teams and they're two of the best college hockey programs in the country. 
Reid pictured on the far right, celebrating a Bobcat goal.

9. When you graduate this year, are you considering  advancing to Jr hockey?

Reid-Yes, I am definitely considering playing junior hockey as long as  I have a chance of playing hockey after juniors.

10. Do you have a game system? What is it, what are your 3 favorite games?

Reid-Yes, I have and xbox 360.  My favorite game is NHL 12 by far and I also enjoy Call of Duty MW3 and NCAA Football 12.

11. What is your favorite movie?


12. Favorite book?

Reid-The Great Gatsby.

Nate Gay, Reid Mankowski, Mason Mayberry, Spencer Calcamuggio and Tyler Nienow (left to right) best friends as they make their way to prom in 2011.

13. What do you most enjoy doing with your friends?

Reid- Going out to eat to watch and talk sports.

14. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Reid- I see my self going to a college getting my degree to become a math teacher and hopefully playing or coaching hockey at the same time.

Reid is pictured here playing for the Sylvania U18 Tier II team. A team headed to Nationals following the completion of the Ohio high School season.  Considering the composition of this Sylvania team, and their beating Team Cleveland to earn this trip to nationals.  I believe they have the tools to win it all. 
Thank you Reid for your time, and contributing to the Scouting Ohio High School Hockey blog.  Best of luck to you and the Bobcats with the remainder of the season, and the pre/post season.  I hope to catch up with you again later in the season.

Starting off the beginning of the year, I need to apologize to my readers.  The player rankings have been delayed, and I do not anticipate them being posted until February.  There have been numerous positive developments and I believe the popularity of the One on One interviews is making the blog better, especially with the soon to be posted One on One's with coaches from every level.  Stay tuned for those. 

This past long weekend was one big weekend.

As we look at  the games being played this past weekend, it is safe to say we have seen good hockey coming from the usual suspects.  University School, St Edwards, Toledo St. Johns, Gilmour, Rocky River, Lake Catholic, Shaker Heights, Olentangy Liberty and Dublin Jerome.  It is clearly evident that Toledo St. Francis is not the same team that won their first state title last season, and that Walsh is developing and will be contending.

The real story of this whole season is a tale of two wildcats.  Two cool yet very, very different wildcats.  Cleveland St. Ignatius and Sylvania Northview.  In state play the teams with the most trips to states are BGHS with 19, St. Ed's 19, & St. Johns 14.  Sylvania Northview and St. Ignatius combine for 13, so it would seem they are not only the "new kids" this pair, right now today are the two best teams this state has ever seen.  More skill, more speed, more will to win and more depth than any teams in the past.  Lets examin these pair of Wildcats.

Cleveland St. Ignatius-  is a private high school under the Diocese of Cleveland, for young men, located in the Ohio City neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio. The school is renowned for its high standards of academic excellence, athletic program and performing arts programs. Each year, nearly 100% of graduates go on to colleges and universities within one year of graduation. - Wikipedia
St. Ignatius is an all boy college preparatory school with an enrollment of some 1,400 students, where by they are uninhibited under state athletic recruitment rules for athletes.    St. Ignatius has further elected to maintain that their top varsity team, as is the case with the majority of Ohio day schools, in the Ohio Athletics Association.  Not pursuing in the case of hockey, competition with other private preparatory institutions such as those of the New England Division 1 prep hockey league, which is with out question maintain the best high school aged league in North America, or pursuing the next best league, the Independent Prep league with teams like Culver Military and Shattuck St. Mary and Clevelands Gilmour Academy( which maintains a Varsity A and B program).  It is very curious as St. Ignatius a medium  size private school.
I believe that having teams like St. Ignatius, St. Edwards, University School, Toledo St. Johns etc. playing in the State is a great add for Ohio, and ups the level of competition, to the point where the state needs to establish two divisions, each with their own title, to end the crazy disparity the comes at the end of each season in play offs.  That is an item I speak about with great frequency.

The Sylvania Northview Wildcats, are a public institution, with a total enrollment of 1300.  Some 700 female students and 500 males, being drawn in from area (divided) in to two roughly 5 square mile regions.  One being established as Northview, the other Southview.  A division which was made in great haste in the late 1950's that established two separate high schools, and divided one community, making the whole to suffer in generalized mediocrity.  I am informed that a groundswell movement is working in reuniting Sylvania, that is however an article for another time.

Our players, St. Ignatius, and Sylvania Northview spent this weekend again apart.  St. Ignatius in Meadville, Sylvania in Chicago.  St Ignatius entered the weekend coming off a huge win over rival St. Ed's and an absolutely commanding win over University School 9-2.  St. Ignatius won the Meadvill tourny in style.  Beating teams that aside from St. Eds -score 4-0 (who can not beat Ignatius this year) teams that if Ignatius had lost we would be scratching our heads  Erie McDowell score 9-1, Seneca score 6-1and Meadville 7-1 , Peters Township score 4-0 this weekend.  St Ignatius is now 28-0, with 156 goals for and 30 against.  The shut out of St. Ed's  at 4-0 illustrates that St Ignatius is now ready shred their remaining opposition in league play and the Barron Cup as they drive to the State Finals.  Playing with confidence St Ignatius is unbeatable.

Sylvania played their last game, last year.  Where they were crushed 4-2 by Dublin Jerome.  Yet this past weekend they found themselves in Chicago.  Playing some of the best AA U18 teams in the country.  Teams that will be contending against the Sylvania Prepost team in post season play at Nationals.  Those teams being: Arapaho, Littleton, Dallas, Geneva,  Southbend and Chicago's Wheaton.  They will be played teams that are bigger, stronger, faster, older and with more depth than any team they have or faced.  Sylvania came in won their first contest commanding game play in all three zones.  The shut out win over Arapaho 3-0 was a great start.  The next morning Sylvania squared off with the Geneva Cyclones and downed them 4-0.  That afternoon Sylvania played one of the top AA teams in the Nation,  the Hawks from Littleton Colorado who enter the weekend 38-6-3.  Sylvania beats Littleton 3-1.  Monday morning Sylvania played Wheaton and battled to a 3-2 win.  The Championship game was rematch for Sylvania and Arapaho (Colorado).  This contest was physical fast and an all out battle.  Arapaho drew first blood in the first period.  Sylvania with stood numerous PK situations and found the net in the third to tie the game.  The game ended a tie and in the over time session Sylvania scored to win.  Sylvania is now 25 games in to their season.  21-1-3.

What does this all mean.  It means that this pair of wildcat's are playing what is the best hockey either team has ever played.  That these two Ohio teams, barring rivalry upsets, are on a collision course.  Where still the only place they will battle is the Sunday March 11 State final game, for the state championship. 

I personally would like to take these two teams, and plop them down at some neutral site, Goggin arena, or the BGSU ice arena, or the Covelli center.  Just these two teams, 3 officials and no one else, but me.  Watching what just may be the best Ohio High School game ever.  Selfish I know, so ok lets open it up to the parents, lol.  We will however all have to sit back, watch and wait, and hope the two best teams the state collide.  The dockets show that Ignatius will be playing Strongsvill the 20th at 7pm and again on the 21st against Lake Catholic on the 21st, who just beat and won the St. Johns tournament this weekend.  Sylvania is heading down to Indianapolis, to play in Fishers  on the 21st and 22nd against Hamilton and Cathedral-Chatard.