Hockey East's Recruiting Classes

It is a lot harder to put together a credible ranking of the recruiting class for each of the Hockey East schools then doing the same for Big East basketball due to the scarcity of information on recruits.

It does not help by the time I began this most junior teams had eliminated the roster page from last year's team thus eliminating a very good source of information. I will attempt to look at what the schools PC will competing against have added. In general the methodology will be to compare what players a team has lost and see how the new players they have brought in fill in the holes. One disclaimer up front the only two players I have ever seen play is Friar recruits John and David Cavanaugh while they were at Tollgate High School. I also will add a few notes if anything pertaining to that team has happened in the last few months. The heights and weights are off each team's roster and might vary from other sources and its possible the stats might vary as one place might count playoff stats others might not. The abbreviation y.o. stands for years old. The numbers following age is the goals, assists and points the player scored last year.

Boston College
Matt Lombardi – Forward – Gov. Dummer (Prep) 6'0" 185 19 y.o 16-12-28
Ben Smith – Forward – Westminster (Prep) 5'11" 195 18 y.o 23-35-58
Matt Price – Forward – Milton (OPJHL – Ontario) 5'10" 183 18 y.o 14-37-51
Carl Sneep – Defense – Brainerd (Minn H.S.) 6'3" 210 18 y.o. 13-24-37
Joseph Ehiorobo – Forward – Lawrence Academy (Prep) 6'0" 190 19 y.o 9-13-22
Corey Griffin – Forward – Taft (Prep) 6'1" 200 19 y.o. 6-7-13

Unlike the past couple of recruiting classes BC did not need (nor have the scholarships available) to bring in a class that would rank as a top class. They are looking to replace their top scorer (Chris Collins) and their top offensive defenseman Peter Harrold. Also gone is valuable forward Stephen Gionta. BC had room for an extra player since they did not replace Ben Eaves when he went pro late last summer.

First this class puts BC in better position since this team will be deeper then last year's NCAA runner up team. Second this class will not be thrown into the breech like last year's class was since there is more experience. Both Price and Smith are likely to see regular playing time up front and their transition to the college game might be smoother then for most freshmen. Jerry York has the luxury to work them into the lineup on one of his lower lines matched with veteran line mates.

Smith earned All-New England honors at Westminster this past season. Previously he had been all league in his previous 2 seasons. His resume has international experience as last year he was a member of the Under-18 team and the previous year he played on the Under-17 team. The later team finished runner up in the 5 Nations tournament in Germany. Smith also has some junior experience as he was a member of the Jr Bruins organization. He will be the youngest player in Hockey East this coming season and is the player most likely to be an All American before his college career is over.

For the past two years Matt Price has been a productive member of the Milton IceHawks. In his initial season he was his team's rookie of the year. In some of the reports I have seen it was reported that Price's performance was a bit of a disappointment. Despite that he still was chosen for the Junior A all star game.

The real talent in this class might be defenseman Carl Sneep. The Minnesota high school star was All State and a candidate for the state's Mr Hockey award.. Partly due to his size and partly due to the up side his game has Sneep has already been drafted by the Pittsburg Penguins of the NHL. By year end he also got his feet wet finishing the year in the USHL with Lincoln.

Ehiorobo and Griffin are walk ons who are unlikely to see any ice time.

BC won the recruiting war for '07 recruit Barry Almeida against the rest of Hockey East. PC had been heavily involved. BC now appears to have a solid crop of forwards coming in '07, Joe Whitney, Ryan Hayes, Brian Gibbons, and Almeida. However it now appears he suffered a serious eye injury which now threatens his career.

BC sweated out the summer as star Brian Boyle was being pursued by the L A Kings, but it appears he will be playing his senior season for BC. The Kings are one NHL team which does not place a value on college as a launching pad for NHL careers. Last year he scored 52 points on 22 goals and 30 assists. The big fear was that if he did go and with the graduation of recent Bruin signee Chris Collins, who had 34 goals and 29 assists, it was possible the BC offense could suffer a loss of 1/3 of their offensive firepower.

BC is a very young team that made a nice playoff run after dramatically sliding in the closing weeks of the season. Boyle and Collins played a major role in carrying a team which played 10 freshmen. Collins in particular stepped up as he had but 9 goals in his junior year.

Just as this year's freshmen class will benefit from not being thrown into the breech. Boyle's return relieves the pressure on the sophomore class to really need to produce.

If one was looking for a player who will be key on this BC squad it just might be Joe Rooney. Rooney is the son of former Friar star Steve Rooney. Last year he produced a 5-13-18 stat line and for his career it is 13-21-34. BC would love for nothing more then for him to explode like Collins did last year. Just a side note Joe's younger brother Chris will be playing in the EJHL this season for Bridgewater and is a potential Division I player in the next couple of seasons.

Boston University
Zach Cohen – Forward – Tri-City (USHL) 6'3" 195 19 y.o 18-15-33
Luke Popko – Forward – USNDPT 5'10" 200 18 y.o.
Brian Strait – Defense – USNDPT 6'1" 195 18 y.o
Eric Gryba – Defense – Green Bay (USHL) 6'3" 215 3-12-15 18 y.o.
Brian Bennett – Goalie – USNDPT 6'1" 185 18 y.o.

There are indications, including BU's Coach Parker's own words in the press release announcing BU's recruits, that BU tried till the last minute to cap this class with a franchise player. In the end they were unable to land such a player.

So for the time being despite the talent BU is bringing in there are several red flags in this class. First that they haven chosen to hold back a full scholarship. Second they do not appear on paper to have replaced the offense they lost with their graduating class. Finally in this day of opting for quicker players and tighter officiated games BU has brought in at least one player in this class who draws a lot of penalty minutes. The last thing this team will need to have to deal with is to spend more time killing penalties and the corresponding pressure that killing those penalties puts on the rest of the team's game.

Part of the answer will lay with how well the rest of the teams step up. BU's departing seniors included three high scoring forwards and two defenders, one of whom was vastly underrated.

There is no denying the talent they are bringing in. Three members of the class were members of the United States National Development Team. However, it is also clear this group goes against the trend to bring in smaller and quicker players.

The most experienced player of the group is 19 year old USHL graduate Zach Cohen. Last season he doubled his previous season's USHL total and earned all star recognition. Cohen will be looked upon to fill a power forward slot. The other forward is also a down low forced. Center Luke Popko was a two year member of the National Team. He is considered a player who brings a lot of intangibles to the team, however in his two years with the national team he scored only 18 goals and had 20 assists.

Defensively one of the two recruits must step up and fill the large skates of the departed Danny Spang. On is Popko's USNDTP teammate Brian Strait. He is the more offensive of the incoming pair of defensemen. During his two year stint with the national team he had 7 goals and 27 assists. The other defender is Eric Gryba who comes from the USHL, which is the most veteran U. S. junior league and is the most physical U.S. junior league. Gryba fit this style. He appears to be more of a defensive defenseman who notched only 15 points including 3 goals. The stat which jumps out at you the most though was he had 200+ penalty minutes. As a freshmen in a college game that appears to be called more tightly, it will be interesting to see how much time it takes him to adjust and how much time he spends in the penalty box.

Lastly BU's final national team player in goalie Brian Bennett. Right now it appears Bennett will spend his freshmen year serving as senior John Curry's understudy with an eye on being the top goaltender in the '07-08 season. Bennett was slowed for part of last season due to a shoulder injury, but did compile a 10-2-0 record with a 1.71 goals against and a 924 save percent.

The player BU seemed to put all their recruiting chips on, in hopes of shoring up their offense, was National team star Patrick Kane. Kane was long been rumored to be heading to London of the OHL. This is a major junior team, so signing with them pretty much precludes him from going the college route due to the penalties requiring him to sit out extensive time depending on the number of major junior games he plays..

BU's would have actually gotten Kane in mid season with the hope it would give the Terriers a boost. It was the midseason return of last year's captain David VanDerGulik which helped lead BU to the Hockey East regular season championship

Now there is a difference having a top player returning from injury and throwing a freshman into the fire. Granted Kane would play the first half of the year in the USHL, but experience is important. Besides getting Van derGulik back, it was their experience which put them over the top.

For the near future BU seems to have once again found the touch in mining blue chip prospects. For their '07 class they have recently landed 2 top flight talents. National Team player Colin Wilson, whose dad was a former NHL'er with the Calgary Flames and a player PC had their eyes on, Avon Old Farm product Nick Bonino. BU has also made their first mark in the '08 class with Ontario hot shot Cody Trivino.

The '07 class will continue to see other players from the national team program enter BU. The connection is BU assistant David Quinn was on the USA coaching staff and former BU player John Hynes is currently the U-18 coach. Hynes is a former star at Tollgate.

Jason Bergeron – Forward – Milton (OPJHL) 5'8" 165 18 y.o. 15-34-49
Chris Auger – Forward – Wellington (OPJHL)5'10" 165 18 y.o. 41-51-92 NHL Draft Pick
Paul Worthington – Forward – Green Mountain (EJHL) 5' 8" 172 20 y.o 21-38-59
Frankie Stegnar – Forward – Brampton (OPJHL) 6'4" 220 18 y.o. 39-21-60
Ian Schaser – Forward – Bridgewater (EJHL) 5'11" 180 21 y.o. 33-27-60
Jonathan Maniff – Forward – Walpole (EJHL) 5'10" 175 19 y.o. 22-18-40
Ben Holmstrom – Forward - Sioux Falls (USHL) 6'1" 180 19 y.o. 10-9-19
Kory Falite – Forward – Jr Bruins (EJHL) 5'10" 173 20 y.o. 21-34-55
Nick Schaus – Defense – Omaha (USHL) 5'11" 180 20 y.o. 9-44-53
Barry Goers – Defense – Green Mountain (EJHL) 5'9 175" 20 y.o. 5-34-39
Jeremy Dehner – Defense – Green Bay (USHL) 5'8" 180 19 y.o. 8-31-39
Steve Capraro – Defense - Avon Old Farm (Prep) 5'9" 195 20 y.o.
Tommy Powers – Defense – Cornwall (COJHL) 6'3" 205 21 y.o.
Carter Hutton – Goalie – Fort Williams (SIJHL) 6'1" 190 20 y.o. 33-1 1.84 gaa .926 save pct
Nevin Hamilton – Goalie – Boston Jr Bruins (EJHL) 6'1" 205 21 y.o.

Lowell was forced to bring in largest recruiting classes as fifteen players from last year's roster are no long with the team. Lowell was partially prepared for that as they did have ten seniors graduate. Their disappointing season last year and the possibility that Coach Blaise McDonald is on the hot seat may have motivated the staff to shake up the remainder of the roster. The team was also hurt by the transfer of netminder Peter Vetri to Quinnipiac.

Replacing Vetri will be the first order of business. Coming off a strong freshman season Vetri did disappoint last year, but he was a dependable workhorse. To replace him Lowell is bringing in 2 goalies. From the Boston Jr Bruins comes Nevin Hamilton whose teams in the past two season have won and been runner up for the EJHL crown. A late recruit from the Superior International Junior Hockey League's Fort Williams team is Carter Hutton. The 20 year old put up solid numbers for Fort Williams but the question will be can he make the jump to Division 1 hockey, there are few recruits from the SIJHL.

Defensively Lowell returns only three defenders with appreciable experience. To fill the gaps on the blue line UML is bringing in five defensemen. The most prominent is Nick Schaus who is a three time USHL all star. By his final season in the USHL he stepped up to also become a solid offensive defenseman. Barry Goers was a two time all star in the EJHL. While small he is quick and has a reputation for being a good transitional player. Jeremy Dehner might be an overlooked quantity. He too appears to be a quick player who plays a good transition game. The other newcomers are Tommy Powers and Steve Capraro. Powers is a Floridian who went to Canada to play junior hockey. He is a hard nosed player with size Capraro appears to be a walk on who prepped at Avon Old Farm.

Lowell hopes to boost their offense with 8 freshmen forwards. The top prospect appears to be Chris Auger who was an NHL pick. He is considered a sniper and finished 3rd in the OPJHL in scoring. Many of the other Lowell forward candidates seem to be older so the expectation might be they have matured physically and are players who might not have large upsides but who might have shorter learning curves as they jump into Hockey East play. Frank Stegnar is an exception he is only 18, has good size and was especially adept on his team's power play. The older players Lowell is counting on to jump right in are Kory Falite, Ian Schaser and Paul Worthington. Falite is a local player for them who played for the Jr Bruins and was an EJHL all star. He is considered a pure goal scorer. Schaser was a linemate of PC recruit Matt Tommasiello playing for the Bridgewater team in the EJHL. He was 5th in the EJHL in scoring and was also a league all star. Worthington performed for the Green Mountain Glade and is noted for his quickness. He is a two time league all star. Rounding out the class are Ben Holmstrom and Jonathan Maniff both of whom are hard nosed physical players, and Jason Bergeron who by reports to be a solid two way player they hope to develop over time.

This class seems to be one that fits the shot gun method. By bringing in so many kids they hope to have enough jump right in and contribute and those that don't will wash out allowing them to naturally rebalance their recruiting classes.

The biggest news for Lowell in the off season was the decision by 2 year starter Peter Vetri to leave the school. Holding down the goaltending job Vetri was a major reason that as a freshman Lowell surprised many people and why preseason last year why many people thought UML was a serious threat to at least nail down a home ice slot in the quarterfinals.

Vetri is not the only player not returning several lesser lights are also not coming back which lends to whispers about coach Blaise McDonald's future. There seems to be some question of how he runs his ship and there is disappointment with him that he has not returned Lowell to the success Bruce Crowder achieved, Lowell is one of 2 Division 2 schools competing in Hockey East which in part makes producing a year in and year out winner tough. Traditional powers like BC and BU are so established they simply reload, other strong programs like Maine and UNH are the cornerstone programs of those school's athletic programs. For Lowell it often is building a team that is top heavy in two classes and hoping the experience they gain from a couple of rebuilding seasons serves them well when they are top loaded with juniors and seniors. Last year was the year they had large junior and senior classes, thus the disappointment with their finish and the pressure on McDonald to get the program a bit more consistent.

Lowell plays in the Tsgonas Arena, an AHL venue. This year they might have some trouble scheduling dates as the Arena needs to make some upgrades to some of its infrastructure. It appears they are taking a couple of games back to the old Tully Forum in Billerica. Right now it appears the only games will be games against Maine. That in itself is a smart move as Maine travels well and going to the smaller Tully will keep a good number of the visiting fans on the outside looking in.

Ted Purcell – Forward – Cedar Rapids (USHL) 6' 2" 180 21 y.o. 19-52-71
Tony Morrone – Forward – South Kent (Prep) 5'10" 200 19 y.o. 17.38-55
Zach Sill – Forward – Truro (MJHL – Maritime) 6'0" 180 18 y.o 12-8-20.
Tyler Czuba – Forward – Swan Valley (MJHL) 5'11" 200 21 y.o. 60-41-101
David deKastrozza – Forward – Culver Academy (Prep) 6'4" 205 19 y.o.
Brett Carriere – Defense – NE Jr Cyclones (AtlJHL) 6'0 210 21 y.o. 9-49-58
David Wilson – Goalie – Streetsville (OPJHL) 6'1" 195 21 y.o.
Dan Morse – Goalie – Harwood Union (High School) 6'0" 190

For a program that routinely has brought in solid players this was the toughest team to gauge how solid their incoming players are. Maine seems to have been reluctant to let the cat out of the bag as it was just the other day they updated the bio part on their website.

Maine has long been known to find the hidden gem. The credit has gone to assistant coach Grant Standbrook would seemed to have a knack for picking players with upside and visualizing how they would develop in college. His success has been uncanny.

However this class will seem to be a real test. Maine has lost 7 players from last year's team including 2 top flight forward and a solid defender. In their place they are bringing in a pair of goalies, a defensemen, and a real emphasis on getting some scoring

Maine no longer has Greg Moore and Derek Damon who were the top scorers on last year's team. In their place they have picked up a pair of playmaking forward in veteran USHL player Ted Purcell and Prep school star Tony Morrone, and a pair of potential goal scorers, both from the Canadian Maritimes, Zach Sill and Tyler Czuba.

Purcell has size but does not seem like a true grinder. For Cedar Rapids he was a two time all star setting up Northeastern recruit Chad Costello. Morrone starred as the linemate at South Kent to Merrimack recruit Mike Vaskivou. Both players seemed to thrive in that role. The two Maritime Junior Hockey League players are at opposite ends of the spectrum. It should be noted most other teams do not seem to take players directly from the MJHL. Zach Sill is an 18 year old who still is developing after several superb seasons for his midget team. Czuba who had the gaudy numbers, a team record 60 goals for instance, is 21. Also joining the Maine team is pro prospect David DeKastrozza. What he brings to the table is size as he is at least viewed as a pro prospect the Central Scouting Bureau.

Despite losing 2 defensemen, Maine brought back only 1. Again it's a player jumping up to Hockey East from a league, the Atlantic Hockey League, which sees few players make the jump directly to college from. However Brett Carrier proved to be the league's best defensemen during the season and showed an ability to play on both ends of the ice.

Maine saw their backup goalie return to juniors with an eye to transferring. Needing a goalie late Maine found one at the Royal Bank Cup, MVP David Wilson. Wilson's team plays in the OPJHL, where he appeared to be a solid player, but it was the Royal Bank tourney that brought him to Maine attention as the timing seemed to work out perfectly.

The big news is major coaching changes that even crossed over to affect their women's program.. The dominos begin with long time top assistant Grant Standbrook deciding to cut back his duties. He will be fulfilling the volunteer assistant role this year. This prevents him from going out recruiting and limits his work to on ice teaching, an aspect he supposedly loves the most. Standbrook has been an assistant for 30 of the past 31 years where he was an instrumental part in two of the best college hockey programs in the nation, Wisconsin and Maine. In the year between his stints at Wisconsin and Maine Standbrook coached in Italy. In the early 70's he was the head coach at Dartmouth. His place was taken by the head coach of the women's team, Guy Perron. Perron had previously worked with the men's program as a volunteer assistant, for the past couple of years he has been the women's coach, a program which achieved large strides forward in his short tenure. Simultaneously the second assistant Campbell Blair resigned to take the first assistant job at Alaska-Anchorage. The crossover to the women's program was that his wife was one of the women's team assistants.

Many people feel Maine's program is at a crossroads. Many fans feel their coach is not up to the standards of their beloved Shawn Walsh. It was felt that Coach Tim Whitehead lived off of past reputation and Standbrook's keen eye for talent. With that link broken they fear the direction the program is taking. However by bringing in the women's coach, a former Black Bear player and a person with a reputation for being a tireless worker it seems the transition has gone smoothly. In fact Maine has landed two top recruits for their '08 recruiting class.

Brett Watson – Forward – Tri-City (USHL) 5'11" 170 21 y.o 9-14-23
Will Ortiz – Forward – Salisbury (Prep)5'9" 170 20 y.o 24-14-38
Dan Meyers – Goalie – Green Mountain (EJHL) 6'2" 215 21 y.o 13-8-0 2.67 gaa .927 save pct
Justin Braun – Defense – Green Bay (USHL) 6'1 180 19 y.o 2-11-13
Kevin Kessler – Defense – N. H. Monarchs (EJHL) 6'3" 215 20 y.o 6-9-15
Martin Nolet – Defense – College Champlain (LHJAQ) 6'3" 205 20 y.o. 5-7-12 NHL Draft Pick

UMass is in good position to upgrade their program as their 6 member class is replacing but 3 departed seniors. Gabe Winer split the goaltending duties last year. His replacement is EJHL graduate Dan Meyers. Performing the past 2 seasons for the Green Mountain Glade Meyers earned all-star status in his second season. Before joining the Glade, Meyers played high school hockey in New Jersey.

On defense UMass will have to replace stalwart Marvin Degon, who was not only solid on defense but a good offensive player, in particular on the power play where he scored 8 goals. UMass is bringing in 3 defensemen. The prize is Martin Nolet who is a rugged defenseman who has already been taken by the L.A. Kings. The other defensemen are Justin Braun, who showed an ability to play on both ends of the rink, but is considered a bit undersized by some observers, and Kevin Kessler, an EJHL all star with the N.H. Monarchs. His reputation is built on being a solid and hard hitting stay at home defensemen.

Offensively this UMass team must replace only Jamie Solon and Stephen Werner. The Minutemen will look to 2 forwards to step in. The first is the younger brother of PC senior Chase Watson. He is a veteran junior player having played in both the USHL and NAHL and is considered a smart player. The second player is Will Ortiz, a member Salisbury Prep's championship team, where he was teammates with 3 PC freshmen. He played two years for Salisbury and scored 38 goals in that time. He seems to have the hallmarks of a Salisbury players, quick feet and an ability to handle the puck in the offensive zone.

Matt   Jones – Forward – Sioux Falls (USHL) 6'4" 205 20 y.o. 11-8-19
Mike Vaskivou – Forward – South Kent (Prep 6'1" 198 20 y.o. 29-26-55
Patrick Kimball – Forward – Jr. Bruins (EJHL) 5'8" 170 20 y.o 19-24-43
Justin Boniatatibus – Forward – Walpole (EJHL) 6'0" 190 20 y. o 21-28-49
Brandon Sadlowski – Defense – Fort McMurray (AJHL – Alberta) 6'0" 185 20 y.o 5-27-32
Joe Loprieno – Defense – Chicago (USHL) 6'3" 205 20 y.o 3-10-13.
Pat Bowen – Defense – N. H. Monarchs (EJHL) 6'0 190 21 y.o 9-32-41
Dave Burkholder – Defense – Welland (GHJHL) 5'11" 180 19 y.o 7-20-27
J. Christopher Robitaille – Forward – St Jerome (LHJAQ) 6'1" 195 19 y.o
Andrew Brathwaite – Goalie – Chilliwack (BCHL) 6'2" 180 21 y.o

This is a very difficult class to find anything on. Merrimack has not even put up cursorary bios on their website and it appears most of their incoming players are players who are projects or gambles.

The reason behind the large class Merrimack is bringing in is a large number of departures, 7 seniors and 3 underclassmen are gone. Among them are three regular defensemen including Bryan Schmidt who was among the best seniors in the conference last year. They also lose a pair of solid forwards.

Beside the lack of information what I did find on these players was far from a ringing endorsement. What I did find by people commenting of the players were phrases that indicate many of these guys have major weaknesses in their game.

The goalie Andrew Brathwaite seems destined to be the 3rd string goalie as his numbers for Chilliwack were anything but spectacular over his 2 year stay there; 21-26-4 win/loss record 3.54 goals against and a .908 save percent.

The recruits from the EJHL, Patrick Kimball of the Jr Bruins, Justin Bonitatibus from Walpole and Pat Bowen were all All-Stars, but by now you should get the idea the EJHL has many all stars as there are 2 divisions each with its own all star team. Bowen seems the most solid of the group, though he is also the oldest. He played at Pomfret before 2 years with the Junior Monarchs. The comment on him was the most straight forward compliment I found. He is credited with handling the puck well and has a good shot..

Matt Jones, the Sioux Falls USHL transplanted gains his notoriety due to his size. The comments I saw on him were went along the lines of "decent hands and skating ability and would be a presence in front of the net." Mike Vaskivou's, who did have solid numbers at South Kent, biggest note was he was born in Finland and grew up in Florida. He actually has played along side Maine recruit Tony Morrone back to their days in Florida. He played most of his prep hockey at Westminster. Christopher Robitaille plays in a Quebec junior league which does not seem to provide much information (at least in English).

The defensemen fare no better in their write-ups. Brandon Sadlowski played in Alberta for the past three years. Joe Loprieno, from the USHL's Chicago team, was praised in the team's release upon his committing to Merrimack for being "a solid player". Dave Burkholder's claim to fame is his dad is the hockey coach at Niagara University.

New Hampshire
Bobby Butler – Forward – Jr Bruins (EJHL) 6'0" 185 19 y.o. 22-22-44
Peter LeBlanc – Forward – Hamilton (OPJHL- Ontario) 5'11" 195 18 y.o. 10-12-22 NHL Draft Pick
Nick Krates – Defense – Omaha (USHL) 6'2" 195 19 y.o. 1-10-11
Brian Foster – Goalie – Des Moines (USHL) 6'2" 180 19 y.o. 2.81 gaa
Dan Rossman – Forward – Jr. Warriors (EJHL) 6'0" 190 19 y.o. 13-23-36

This class provides the Wildcats with a chance to vastly upgrade their team. At least that was the plan until Daniel Winnik left early. Now this class is replacing the more used member of the goalie rotation, an All American defenseman (but one with defensive flaws), and a pro caliber forward.

The goalie who will share the goaltending duties this year is New Hampshire native Brian Foster. Foster spent the past year in the USHL, but before that he preceded Friar recruit Ryan Simpson as the N.H. Monarch's goalie. This past season Foster backboned his team to the USHL championship. Foster has also already been chosen in the NHL draft.

Replacing All American Brian Yandle and underachieving Mike Hutchins, who technically had another year's eligibility is Nick Krates. He too is another product of the USHL.. The past two years he has played for the Omaha Lancer and shown himself to be a solid defensive defenseman. In that time he has scored 7 goals and had 15 assists (in 106 games).

A trio of forwards coming in are looked upon to give added spark to the UNH offense. The only notable loss was Winnik. Bobby Butler is a Massachusetts product who despite big numbers in the Massachusetts public school leagues had to prove himself in the EJHL where he has played for 3 years. In his career he scored 59 goals and had 71 assists. Dan Rossman is also a graduate of the EJHL, having come from the Jr Valley Warriors. He had originally committed to Northeastern, but their coaching change made him change his mind. He actually had a poorer year last year then the previous year when he was an EJHL all star in 2004-05. His two year EJHL totals were 38 goals and 57 assists. UNH's brightest hope rests with NHL draft pick Peter LeBlanc. Last year he was limited to 20 games where he produced a 10-12-22 line. The previous year he was the OPJHL's Rookie of the Year and played in the CJAHL All star game.

Greg Costa – Forward – Boston Bulldogs (AtlJHL) 5'8" 183 21y.o. 29-71-100
Joe Cucci – Forward – Jr Warriors – (EJHL) 5'11" 160 20 y.o. 29-24-53
Chad Costello – Forward – Cedar Rapids (USHL) 5'9" 173 20 y.o. 31-45-76
Randy Guzior – Forward – Chicago (USHL) 6'1" 193 20 y.o. 17-22-39
Chris Donovan – Forward – Jr Bruins (EJHL) 5'8" 176 21 y.o. 27-25-52
Kyle Kraemer – Forward – Witchita Falls (NAHL) 5'10" 192 21 y.o. 29-33-62
Jim Driscoll – Defense – Jr Bruins (EJHL) 5'9" 186 21 y.o. 7-36-43
Dave Strathman – Defense – Cedar Rapids (USHL) 6'1" 176 21 y.o. 12-19-31
Brad Thiessen – Goalie – Merritt (BCHL) 6'0" 171 20 y.o. 22-21-4 2.88 gaa.922 save pct
Dylan Wiwchar – Forward – Bonnyville (AJHL) 6'1" 205
Octavian Jordan – Forward – N. E. Jr Huskies 6'1" 206
John Brennan – Forward – Transfer URI Club – 6'1" 200

Northeastern is not only replacing eight players who graduated or were sent packing, they are trying to replace a stellar class of '05 which was never replaced in the coaching transition. Like Lowell they too are approaching their rebuilding by overloading, hoping some of the incoming recruits succeed , that those that don't will be moved on and new players will be brought. In the process they get better as a program.

Having failed to make the playoffs three of the last four years, and only doing so in 2005 on the backs of that team's senior class, there will be up to 13 new faces. Most likely some will never make the final roster as the Huskies have the largest preseason roster of any Hockey East team. That many players would probably be too cumbersome during the season. The key will be if Coach Greg Cronin can sort through these players and find the correct combination to start on the path of success.

Without a clear number one goalie and having had one of last year's goalies transfer Brad Thiessen has been brought in to push the veteran goalies. Thiessen comes from the same league where PC recruit Chris Eppich played. Among Thiessen's accomplishments was setting a league record consecutive minute shutout streak and a league leading 7 shutouts.

To patch up the defense Cronin has brought in a pair of 21 year old defensemen. Being thrown into the breech immediately Northeastern hopes the physical maturity of Jim Driscoll and Dave Strathman will be a quick cure for their defensive ills. Strathman proved to be an offensive weapon for his Cedar Rapids team in the USHL and was key to his team's power play success. Driscoll is a two time EJHL all star and was the league's leading scoring defenseman.

The biggest collection of recruits is up front as Cronin hopes to breathe life into the Huskie offense. With this group he too seems to be subscribing to getting quicker and more creative on offense. The most explosive numbers were put up by Boston Bulldog product Greg Costa. The Bulldog's play in the Atlantic Junior Hockey League which rates below the EJHL, but no matter what league you play in, Costa's 100 points is a noteworthy feat. Costa was also league co-MVP. The USHL leading scorer is also on his way to join the Hounds. Chad Costello led the league with 76 points. Like Costa, Costello is a small quick forward. The parade of potential offensive weapons is also bolstered by the NAHL's 12th leading scorer Kyle Kraemer. Kraemer was Costello's linemate during the '04-05 season at Witchita Falls. Other newcomers include veteran EJHL forward Chris Donovan, who is coming off an all star season with the Jr. Bruins, and Randy Guzior, a solid contributor to the Chicago Steel of the USHL and younger brother of Russ Guzior, a Friar from 1993 to 1997.

Greg Collins – Forward – Salisbury (Prep) 5'10" 180 20 y.o 10-19-29
John Cavanaugh – Forward – Salisbury (Prep) 5'9" 170 19 y.o. 15-29-44
Chris Eppich – Forward – Chilliwack (BCHL) 32-48-80 5'10" 175 20 y.o.
Matt Tommasiello – Forward Bridgewater (EJHL) 14-26-40 5'7" 160 21 y.o.
David Cavanaugh – Defense – Salisbury (Prep) 6'2 "190 20 y.o. 2-13-15
Mark Fayne – Defense – Nobles (Prep) 6'3" 205 19 y.o. 9-23-32
Ryan Simpson – Goalie N. H. Monarchs (EJHL) 6'1" 190 18 y.o.

In general this class was discussed in the spring wrap up. PC has a unique opportunity to upgrade their talent with this class and it appears they have done so. Most likely if you read any college hockey related information you will see little on this class. I think in the end it will be very underrated. Simpson was a late addition since he was originally slated to be a freshman in '07. He is a likely future NHL draft pick and very well could see significant ice time this season. Fayne most likely will require the prerequisite ice time to get his game on a solid footing. He already is an NHL draft pick and has displayed enough talents to suggest he will improve in all facets of the game. John Cavanaugh having stayed in he RIIL for 4 years has flown under the radar screen and despite his size the game as its evolving should allow his talents to blossom. The steal of the class is Chris Eppich whose late recruitment allowed PC to snag a stellar recruit late and to quickly fill the hole left by the graduation of their top scorers.

With PC losing less then most teams and seemingly adding as much if not more then most PC is once again in position to move up in the standings. The only drawback in this class is that 4 of its members are coming to PC directly from prep school. In recent years it seems prep school players have taken awhile to adjust to the college game.

Providence sent out their renewals recently for season tickets and I spent a little time looking at other team's prices. PC has the lowest season ticket price though several of the other schools like UMass and Merrimack are in the same ballpark for season tickets. PC's went for $114, UMass for 125 and Merrimack 120. Online BC and Maine do not have the information available, but Maine for sure has a waiting list so both of those teams are on the high end. That high end sees UNH go for $419 or $381 depending on seat quality, Vermont $340. It is the individual game tickets PC finds itself as the best buy. Lowell and Massachusetts are the next lowest at $12. Northeastern is a slight step up at $14. Merrimack and Vermont at mid priced at $16 and $17 respectively The highest prices go to the traditional powers. I believe BC is around $20 a game, Maine is over $20. UNH's web site quotes a $21 price for games against PC and BU gets $24 or $26 for their games. PC continues to hold the line as they face stiff competition from the PBruins, high school hockey and Brown. However it makes it an excellent deal for visiting fans who want a chance to see their team on the road as it does for Friar fans in town for some reason to stop by and have a great night of hockey.

Colin Vock – Forward – Des Moines (USHL) 5'11" 175 20 y.o.
Brian Roloff – Forward – Green Bay (USHL) 5'10" 180 20 y.o.
Chris Atkinson – Forward - USNDPT 5'10" 170 18 y.o.
Braydon Irwin – Forward – St Mikes (OPJHL – Ontario) 6'5" 205 19 y.o.
Viktor Stalberg – Forward – Frolunda Sweden 6'2" 196 20 y.o
Jonathan Higgins – Forward – Green Mountain (EJHL) 6'1" 180 20 y.o.
Jay Anctil – Forward – Boston Buldogs (Ind) 5'10" 185 21 y.o.
Patrick Cullity – Defense – Berkshire (Prep) 6'2" 200 19 y.o.
Mike Spillane – Goalie – Omaha (USHL) 5'10" 185 19 y.o.

Vermont pointed to their entrance into Hockey East by having a large senior class for their inaugural season in the league. With their departure Vermont has had to bring in a large freshmen class. They will need to replace the offensive output of 2 seniors in particular, Jeff Corey and Brady Leisenring and the all around game of their defensive stalwart and team leader Jamie Sifers.

With those losses Vermont is bringing in a 9 member freshmen class including 7 recruited and 2 walk ons.

The headliner in the group is Chris Atkinson a forward from the U-18 National development team. On that team this past season he played 22 games and netted 4 goals and 9 assists. He is noted for his speed and is considered a player with a high upside.

The class also includes three 20 year old forwards who the Cats hope can translate their experience into immediate results. Brian Roloff comes from Green Bay of the USHL where he scored 28 goals in what was a breakout season. Colin Vock also played in the USHL. He had a solid season with Des Moines, netting 25 goals, but it really drew attention when he had 7 goals and 13 points in 11 playoff games. Viktor Stalberg played in Sweden last year, during his 48 games season he had 31 goals. From the descriptions available on him he blends his size with excellent speed. It also appears last year was a breakout year for him too.

The Cats are also bringing in Brayden Irwin from the OPJHL. He too really impressed during the playoff as had 21 points including 11 goals in 20 playoff games for St Micheals. Despite that hot streak he appears to need to learn how to use his size.

On the blueline the new recruit is Pat Cullity. He is jumping from Berkshire, a prep school to Vermont. He is the son of a Vermont Hall of Famer. However Cullity was originally headed to BU until last winter when he and the Terriers seemed to mutually agree to move on. Last year Cullity had 7 goals and 19 assists in 35 games. There is some speculation that is reinforced by BU's decision to agree to the parting of the ways, that he has not developed as projected.

Vermont has recently given a contract extension to their head coach Kevin Sneddon. Sneddon came in and replaced long time Vermont coach Mike Gilligan and helped rebuild the program after their hazing scandal. To give an idea where coach's salaries are in hockey. Sneddon has been a head coach for 8 years, 3 at Vermont, the previous 5 at Union.. In his eight years he has compile a 98-149-32 record and has yet to take a team to the NCAA's. This year in what is now the first year of his new contract he will be making $135,000.

Vermont also saw assistant coach Damian DiGuilian resign on August 23rd. He had been at Vermont for 10 years and was leaving for family reasons with hopes of getting back into coaching at a later date.

In it's a small world department Vermont AD is Bob Corran. Corran graduated 3 years prior to Bob Driscoll from Ithaca and they spent one year as hockey teammates.. His claim to fame is the building the University of Minnesota Duluth into a women's hockey power during his tenure at UMD.

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