The current trend in college hockey recruiting is to have at part of your recruiting class committed more then a year and a half ahead of time. Western Michigan has been no slackers in this category with the verbal commitments of Daniel Bellissimo (Georgetown OPJHL) and Michael Lesperance (Newmarket OPJHL) last March. Both players, because they are out of high school, were able to sign binding letters of intent over the summer.
Head Coach Jim Culhane has since added two more verbal commitments, Jeff Pierce (Petrolia WOJHL) this August and Nathan Ansell (Sarnia WOJHL) just this past Monday. Both are expected to sign a letter of intent during the early signing period this November.
Daniel Bellissimo, a 6'1" goaltender, will fill the roster spot left by Mike Mantua when his eligibility is used up this spring. Bellissimo, also the younger brother of standout forward Vince, plays much the same style as Mantua and is rated as one of the best goalie prospects out of Ontario. Last season Bellissimo played for both Vaughn and Georgetown of the Ontario Provincial league, but this season is solidified as one of two goaltenders for Georgetown.
Michael Lesperance is a solid 6'1" left-winger with the ability to take care of business in his own zone as well as contribute solid scoring. Lesperance posted a line of 15 goals and 21 assists for 36 points in 48 games played last season. Only 2 games into this season he has a pair of assists and is expected to be a team leader in scoring this season.
Jeff Pierce, also with a 6'1" frame, is a natural goal scorer that could come into Kalamazoo much the same way Jeff Campbell or Brent Walton came to town. He posted a line of 36 goals and 36 assists for 72 points in 54 games last season and already this season has 11 points in just 5 games for the first place Petrolia Jets. Pierce is an older player, but scouts feel he is ready for the next level and should contribute solid scoring once he is at the college level.
Nathan Ansell is the smallest player committed so far at 5'11" and is also the youngest at just 17 years old. Ansell is a stay at home type defenseman very similar to Mat Ponto and Andy Townsend. Although he is not a strong goal scorer, when he is in the play he can create scoring chances that are reflected in his 21 assists last season. Ansell is also a very disciplined player only taking 22 PIM last season. So far this season in 3 games played he has 1 goal and 0 assists, with the goal coming in an overtime shootout.
Assuming no one leaves the Broncos early this spring or summer they will be looking to add on scholarship one more forward and another defenseman to what is already committed. There is also the possibility of adding a walk-on forward and the off chance of a walk-on defenseman.
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