Thursday, February 22, 2018

Ty Taylor: Top Goalie in BCHL Commits to UNH

Goalie Ty Taylor
2018 UNH Commit
"A tall, athletic, composed netminder." Neutral Zone
"Ty has excellent size and composure in goal. He tracks the puck extremely well and moves minimally to avoid over playing." Pasco Valana, Coach, Elite Goalies Canada
Premiere goaltending doesn't always lead to championships but championships are rarely won without it. From 1997 through 2013, UNH won the Hockey East Regular Season Championship seven times and qualified for the NCAA Tournament every year but two. Over that 17-year stretch, 4 All-American goalies backstopped the Wildcats - Ty Conklin (1999-2001), Mike Ayers (2001-'04), Kevin Regan (2005-'08), and Brian Foster (2007-'10).

As the UNH hockey team closes in on its third consecutive losing season, the search for the ingredients of a championship team continues. With the addition next season of Ty Taylor, the premiere goalie in the British Columbia Hockey League, UNH hopes another key piece of the puzzle will fit into place.

In his second season in the BCHL, the 18-year-old Taylor (DOB: 7/5/1999), has compiled a record of 22-5-3 with the Vernon Vipers. He currently is the #1 BCHL goalie in all key statistical categories. The 6'3", 200 lbs., left-catch goalie currently has a league-best .73 winning percentage. Taylor's 1.83 Goals Against Average and .932 Save Percentage are also tops. His 7 shutouts are 4 more than the second place goalie's. Here are some video highlights from this season:



In Taylor's rookie season last year, he was eligible for the 2017 NHL Draft. His record with Vernon was 13-12-2 with a 2.96 GAA and .908 Save%. In mid-January, 2017, the NHL Central Scouting Service listed Taylor as the #29 North American goalie in their "Midterm Rankings".

Taylor was selected by NHL Central Scouting to represent Team West in the 2017 Canadian Junior Hockey League Prospects Game in late January. Taylor played in the final 30 minutes of the game, faced 11 shots on goal, made 9 saves, and earned the win for Team West. There were over 150 NHL, NCAA, and CHL scouts in attendance. Among them were scouts from Neutral Zone** who ranked Taylor as a "B" player and provided this assessment:

"Taylor is a big goalie who covers a lot of net, plays sharp angles and absorbs the puck giving him solid rebound control. He started for Delta (Hockey Academy) last year putting up an impressive .941 SV% and has been able to make a smooth transition to the BCHL where he has a .907 SV% and 3.01 GAA. Here he faced 11 shots and let in 2 of them, neither of which were soft goals. He has good body control and athleticism and did a nice job of holding his posts and never getting out of position. He’s the only goalie here who was ranked in NHL Central Scouting’s Mid-Term Rankings where he sits 24th among North American goalies."
Rating - 4 out of 5 Stars. For purposes of comparison, Neutral Zone currently rates Dylan St. Cyr, freshman goalie at Notre Dame and former US National Team Development Program starter, as a 4 star prospect.

** Reprinted by permission of Brendan Collins, Director of Scouting at Neutral Zone.

In the end, Ty Taylor was not selected in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. In fact, no goalie from Canadian Junior A Hockey was drafted.

Background

Ty Taylor is from Richmond, British Columbia, just south of Vancouver. He started playing goalie as a 7-year-old. He has been working for close to 10 years with goalie coach Pasco Valana, Director of Elite Goalies Canada. Coach Valana has taught many NCAA goalies, including 3 Hobey Baker nominees, as well as numerous NHL goalies. Senior UNH goalie Adam Clark has trained with Valana. I asked Coach Valana to share his assessment of Ty Taylor and he provided the following:
"Ty has worked with me and with Rob Fuchs. Ty has excellent size and composure in goal. Smart goaltender who has always had to work hard at every step of his career. Does not take things for granted. He tracks the puck extremely well and moves minimally to avoid over playing. His next phase for a successful NCAA career and opportunity for the NHL will be the development of a “Personal Game Plan” which addresses a tactical response for each area of the ice and the 10 ways players will attempt to beat him so that he can begin to upgrade his “processor” with the speed of the game."
In the 2015-16 season, Ty Taylor lead the Delta Hockey Academy Prep team to the Canadian Sports School Hockey League Championship. In 18 regular season games, Taylor posted a 15-3-0 record with a .943 save percentage and 1.46 goals against average.

The last UNH goalie named "Ty" helped the Wildcats advance to the 1999 NCAA National Championship game. In the 1998-99 season, two-time All-American Ty Conklin split goaltending duties with senior Sean Matile. As fate would have it, Ty Taylor's goalie coach the last two seasons with the Vernon Vipers was none other than Sean Matile. Next season, Taylor will be playing for another key player on that 1998-99 team - UNH head coach Mike Souza.

Interview

I had an opportunity to interview Ty Taylor, via email, about his hockey career and commitment to UNH:

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): Congratulations on your commitment to play for the University of New Hampshire. What are the main reasons you chose UNH?

Ty Taylor: Thank you. I chose UNH because I loved the campus and everyone involved in the program are great people. When visiting UNH, I felt that I had a great connection with Brian Foster (UNH goalie coach). I know UNH has a great history with successful goalies. I really enjoyed the classic university campus. I think there is a great opportunity at UNH for me.



Mike Lowry: What other college programs were you considering? Which schools did you visit and which ones made an offer to you?

Ty Taylor: There were many schools I spoke with and considered. I spoke with Boston University, Arizona State and UNH mainly. I was offered scholarships from BU and UNH. I felt UNH was the best fit for me.



Lowry: Have you and the UNH coaches agreed on a target date for you to enroll as a freshman at UNH and join the team?

Taylor: Yes, I will be attending UNH next year, and couldn’t be more excited to go!



Lowry: Did you always play goalie or did you start at a different position and convert to goalie? Why did you decide to be a goaltender?

Taylor: I have been playing goalie since novice and knew that was the position for me. I chose to be a goalie because of Roberto Loungo.



Lowry: At this stage in your development as a goalie, what are the strengths of your game?

Taylor: I feel that I am a good puck handler and make key saves at important times in the game.



Lowry: Over the past two seasons, you've worked with Sean Matile, former standout UNH goalie and current Vernon Vipers goalie coach. What areas for improvement have you been focusing on?

Taylor: Sean has helped me a lot over the past two seasons and he has taught me to be calm in the net and to give my team confidence when I am back there.



Lowry: Last month, the Portland Winterhawks acquired your Western Hockey League playing rights. Do you have any interest in forgoing the NCAA route and playing major junior hockey in Canada?

Taylor: I am set on playing at UNH next season and looking forward to it.



Lowry: What are your academic strengths and interests? Have you thought about what you might major in when you enroll at UNH?

Taylor: I would like to study social work while attending UNH.



Wednesday, January 31, 2018

UNH Commits Update 1-31-18: Spotlight on Angus Crookshank

Angus Crookshank
"Goal Scorer"

Player Spotlight - Angus Crookshank

During the 2016-17 regular season, UNH's top forwards provided ample goal-scoring. In 32 regular season games, All-American Tyler Kelleher scored 22 goals, Jason Salvaggio tallied 21 goals and Patrick Grasso had 17. Over the first 26 games this season, the top UNH goal-scorers are defenseman Max Gildon, and forwards Salvaggio and Ara Nazarian, each with 7 goals. The future success of the UNH hockey program will depend, in part, on the addition of forwards who have a knack for scoring goals. 2018 Commit Angus Crookshank is just such a player.

Last Friday night, Crookshank scored an unassisted goal which could easily qualify for "goal of the season" in the British Columbia Hockey League. With less than 3 minutes remaining, Crookshank picked up the puck at the redline, rushed into the Prince George Spruce Kings' zone, slid between two defensemen in the slot, and snapped a wrist shot. He picked up the rebound below the goal line, swooped around the faceoff circle, dragged the puck between two more opponents, and lifted a backhander into the top corner. It was Crookshank's 17th goal in 31 Langley Rivermen games.



After missing the first 8 games of the season with an upper body injury, Crookshank has scored at a "point a game" clip. The 5'11", 181 lbs., 18-year-old forward has played both center and left wing for the Rivermen. He is the team's leading goal-scorer and has also distributed 17 assists. At the 2017 World Junior A Challenge (WJAC) in mid-December, Angus helped Team Canada West win the Gold Medal by scoring 2 game-winning goals and adding 3 assists. He was the second-leading scorer in the tournament.

A week ago, Crookshank participated in the Canadian Junior Hockey League Prospects Game in Mississauga, Ontario. The CJHL and NHL Central Scouting Service selected the top 40 players from all the Canadian Junior A hockey leagues who are eligible for the 2018 NHL Draft in June. Team West won 5-2 and Crookshank assisted on their second goal. In the first clip in these highlights, he dishes a tape-to-tape, centering pass to Corey Andonovski, a Princeton commit who plays for the Chilliwack Chiefs:



The final two clips show Crookshank's 15th and 16th goals of the season. The 15th was the game-winner against the Victoria Grizzlies and came on the Langley power play. The 16th was also a power play goal against Prince George. Crookshank has 7 power play goals, tied for 5th most in the BCHL. He is also tied for 2nd in game-winning goals with 5. A goal scorer for sure.

The NHL Central Scouting Service released the midterm rankings on January 20th. Angus Crookshank is ranked #139 among North American skaters. The CSS has rated him a "C" prospect with potential to be drafted in the 4th, 5th, or 6th round of the 2018 NHL Draft.

2017-18 Statistics

NOTE
The statistics for the commits, presented in the following table, are categorized by the projected year they will enroll in UNH. For example, the "2018 Commits" are projected to begin playing for UNH in the Fall of 2018. I have based these projections on a number of factors including:
~ If a National Letter of Intent has been signed.
~ The year the commit and UNH coaches originally targeted for enrollment in UNH.
~ How old the commit would be upon admission.
~ Number of years in junior hockey prior to admission.
~ The commit's performance in recent seasons as well as injuries.
~ Anticipated date of high school graduation.
~ Number of UNH players leaving the team at the end of the previous season and the position they played.

Player Team League GP Goals Asst Pts PIM
2018 Commits
Joey Cipollone* 3/29/97 (F) Junior Bruins NCDC 37 17 26 43 22
Angus Crookshank* 10/2/99 (F) Langley Rivermen BCHL 32 17 17 34 24
Team Canada West WJAC 5 2 3 5 2
Team West Prospects CJHL 1 0 1 1 0
Eric Esposito* 8/24/98 (F) Youngstown Phantoms USHL 35 9 5 14 83
Corson Green 3/4/99 (D) Central Illinois Flying Aces USHL 12 1 0 1 42
Sioux Falls Stampede USHL 19 1 3 4 39
2018 or '19 Commits
Ryan Verrier* 11/19/98 (D) Green Bay Gamblers USHL 30 3 6 9 24
2019 Commits
Lucas Bahn 9/11/99 (D) Sioux City Musketeers USHL 30 1 5 6 17
Nolan McElhaney 4/22/99 (D) Cushing Academy NE Prep 23 11 23 34 22
Chase Stevenson 1/13/99 (F) West Kelowna Warriors BCHL 30 7 11 18 23
2019 or '20 Commits
Jackson Pierson* 9/10/99 (F) Culver Academy Prep 29 23 37 60 -
Green Bay Gamblers USHL 2 0 0 0 0
Connor Sweeney 5/5/00 (F) Lawrence Academy NE Prep 19 6 8 14 6
Marek Wazny 2/21/00 (F) Burlington Cougars OJHL 27 6 17 23 8
Brookings Blizzard NAHL 7 0 0 0 0
2020 Commits
Tim Stützle 1/15/02 (F) Mannheim Young Eagles DNL U19 21 16 24 40 8
MacPhr 2 1 3 4 0
Team Germany U18 Intl 2 2 0 2 4
Team Germany U16 Intl 6 4 3 7 -
* = Signed National Letter of Intent

News & Notes

International:

~ 2020 UNH Commit Tim Stützle and the Mannheim Junior Eagles U19 (Jungadler Mannheim) travelled to St. Andrews College in Ontario last weekend for the annual MacPherson Tournament. In their first game on Friday, Mannheim defeated the Edge School (Calgary Alberta) 7-2 and Stützle posted a goal and 3 assists. He did not score in Game 2, a 1-3 loss to St. Andrews. Stützle missed the final two days of the tourney with the flu. The depleted Mannheim team advanced to the Championship Game but lost to the Edge School.

Prep School:

~ 2019 UNH Commit Nolan McElhaney has tallied a goal and 7 assists over the last 6 Cushing Academy games. He has the most assists and second highest goals among all New England Prep School defensemen (23GP 11G 23A). In the recently released NHL Central Scouting Service midterm rankings, McIlhaney is ranked #213 among North American skaters.

~ Over a 4-game stretch beginning on January 19th, 2019 or '20 Commit Connor Sweeney scored 4 goals and 3 assists for Lawrence Academy. He is ranked #217 among North American skaters on the NHL Central Scouting Service midterm rankings.

~ 2019 or '20 Commit Jackson Pierson and the Culver Academy Eagles (30-2-0) maintained the #1 ranking in USA Midget 18U Tier 1 hockey. Pierson has scored 23 goals and 37 assists and is tied for the lead in scoring on the Culver team.

National Collegiate Development Conference:

~ 2018 Commit Joey Cipollone is on a 6-game scoring streak including 2 goals and 6 assists. He moved up to a tie for 5th in NCDC scoring.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Charlie Kelleher Steps Up For UNH

Charlie Kelleher
Hockey East Top Performer


Freshman UNH winger Charlie Kelleher stepped up in an important weekend series at the University of Maine. The Wildcats, who were ranked #9 in the nation on November 6th, had been struggling with a 0-6-1 record since December 9th. Meanwhile, Maine was headed in a positive direction with a 7-2-2 record since December 1st. With the Hockey East Playoffs just a month away, UNH urgently needed to improve its play and Kelleher sparked a pair of come-from-behind ties in the unfriendly confines of Alfond Arena.

As the younger brother of All-American and Hobey Baker Finalist Tyler Kelleher, Charlie faced high expectations long before he donned a Wildcat uniform. Last season, he was tied for 8th in scoring in the United States Hockey League (17G, 34A, 51Pts) and the Neutral Zone scouting service made this prediction:
"The 1997 is an excellent prospect. He is a smart, well-rounded player who understands how to make plays all over the ice. He never takes a shift off and is both instinctive and smart. He gets to good spots and makes plays when he gets there. He will add some strength before he arrives at UNH where he will be a very good Division I player."
Like his brother before him, Charlie began his freshman season as the starting right winger. UNH won the first 5 games this season and Kelleher, playing with seniors Jason Salvaggio (left wing) and Michael McNicholas (right wing), tallied a goal and 6 assists.

In early November, Charlie sustained an upper body injury during practice and missed two key games against UMass-Lowell and Boston University. When he returned to the lineup, he played several games on a line with Brendan van Riemsdyk and Liam Blackburn then moved to a line with Kohei Sato and Frankie Cefalu. During that 12-game stretch, Kelleher's point production dropped to 3 assists.

Entering the back-to-back games at Maine last weekend, both the Wildcats and Kelleher were looking for a change in momentum. He was moved back up to the first line but this time with juniors Ara Nazarian at left wing and Marcus Vela at center. In the 2-2 tie on Friday night, they combined for 9 shots on goal, Kelleher had 3 SOG, and Vela controlled the faceoff and assisted on UNH's first goal by Salvaggio.

After trailing 2-0, then 2-1, UNH tied the game 1 minute into the final period on a Eric MacAdams' goal. With 3:47 remaining in overtime, Kelleher showed his knack for being in the correct position to make a big play. Mitchell Fossier stole the puck deep in the UNH zone and snapped a shot. Danny Tirone deflected the puck with his blocker but it dropped behind him. Kelleher swooped in and tapped the puck back to Tirone preserving the tie:



On Saturday night, Charlie Kelleher assisted on UNH's first 2 goals, scored the game-tying goal, and earned the #1 Star as UNH tied Maine 3-3. On their second shift in the opening stanza, Kelleher lead Nazarian and Vela into the Maine zone. Kelleher cut to the right and dumped a backhanded pass to Nazarian who slid it past Maine goalie Jeremy Swayman.



Midway through the second period, UNH went on its second power play with the game tied 1-1. In the closing moments of the man-advantage, Kelleher corralled the loose puck along the half-wall and feathered a pass out to senior defenseman Rich Boyd at the point. Boyd wristed a shot low to the ice beating Swayman.



Maine grabbed a 3-2 lead at the 8:47 mark of the third period. Two shifts later, Charlie Kelleher tied the game. Senior defenseman Cam Marks sent an outlet pass from the UNH zone to Kelleher at the redline. Kelleher skated down the right side and fired a wrist shot from the top of the faceoff circle to Swayman's left. The puck deflected off a Maine defender's shin pad and over Swayman's shoulder. The timely goal was Kelleher's second of the season:



Kelleher's accomplishments were recognized by Hockey East as he was named a "Weekly Top Performer". Kelleher bumped his scoring totals up to 2 goals and 11 assists. He is currently the 5th leading scorer on the UNH squad. McNicholas (5G, 17A) leads with 22 points, Max Gildon (7G, 11A) has 18, Blackburn (6G, 9A) has 15, and Salvaggio (7G, 7A), Nazarian (7G, 7A), and Benton Maass (3G, 11A) all have 14 points.

UNH returns to the Whittemore Center Friday night on the front end of a home-and-home series with UConn. The Huskies have accumulated 13 points in 18 Hockey East games and are in 8th place. UNH has 11 points in 14 HE games and is tied with UMass for 9th place.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

UNH Commits Update 1-13-18: Spotlight on Tim Stützle, Jackson Pierson

Tim Stützle
2020 UNH Commit
Jackson Pierson
2018 UNH Commit

Player Spotlight - Tim Stützle

Rising German star Tim Stützle, who turns 16 on January 15th, continues to rack up points against older players in the U19 German Development League (DNL). The 2020 UNH Commit plays for the first-place Mannheim Junior Eagles U19 (Jungadler Mannheim). In Stützle's first 16 games of the 2017-18 DNL season, the 5'9", 159 lbs. left-shot, left-winger has scored 13 goals and 18 assists. He is the third leading scorer in the DNL, has the third most assists, and is tied for third in goals.

In the first of these video clips from two Mannheim victories last weekend, Stützle, who wears #8, starts the scoring play with a nifty backhand pass from below the goal line. He then dishes a soft, backhand pass for his 16th assist of the DNL season. In the second clip, he hops over the boards, cruises below the faceoff circle, and lifts a one-timer into the top corner for his 13th goal of the season.



In the last week of December, Tim Stützle made his debut with Team Germany U18 at the 5-Nations Tournament in Zuchwil, Switzerland. In the opening game against Switzerland, Stützle scored 2 goals, including the game-winner. He also played in Game 2, the 4-3 win over the Czech Republic but missed the final two games with the flu. Team Germany also defeated Slovakia but lost the final game to Finland 3-4.

At the end of January, Stützle and the Mannheim Young Eagles will travel to St. Andrews College in Ontario for the annual MacPherson Tournament. They will compete against prep school teams from Canada and the United States. Live streaming of the games will be available on the St. Andrews College website.

Player Spotlight - Jackson Pierson

2019 or '20 Commit Jackson Pierson (DOB: 9/10/1999) and the Culver Academy Eagles just completed a stretch of 10 away games which included two tournaments and a showcase. In competition against top New England Prep School teams, they finished runnerup in the Groton/Lawrence Tourney and won the 2017 Edward G. Watkins Invitational Tournament at Cushing Academy. Last weekend, they won all three games in the Alliance Showcase at St. Andrews College in Ontario. Culver Academy improved its record to 23-1-0. They moved back to #1 in the national rankings for USA Midget 18U Tier 1 hockey.

Pierson, who is the starting center for Culver, scored a total of 7 goals and 15 assists in these 10 games. In addition, he was named the Most Valuable Player in the Watkins/Cushing Tournament. Overall, Pierson has tallied 24 goals and 31 assists in 24 games this season. Here are video highlights of two assists he distributed at the St. Andrews Showcase:

2017-18 Statistics

NOTE
The statistics for the commits, presented in the following table, are categorized by the projected year they will enroll in UNH. For example, the "2018 Commits" are projected to begin playing for UNH in the Fall of 2018. I have based these projections on a number of factors including:
~ If a National Letter of Intent has been signed.
~ The year the commit and UNH coaches originally targeted for enrollment in UNH.
~ How old the commit would be upon admission.
~ Number of years in junior hockey prior to admission.
~ The commit's performance in recent seasons as well as injuries.
~ Anticipated date of high school graduation.
~ Number of UNH players leaving the team at the end of the previous season and the position they played.

Player Team League GP Goals Asst Pts PIM
2018 Commits
Joey Cipollone*  (F) Junior Bruins NCDC 32 15 21 36 16
Angus Crookshank*  (F) Langley Rivermen BCHL 28 14 16 30 20
Team Canada West WJAC 5 2 3 5 2
Eric Esposito*  (F) Youngstown Phantoms USHL 28 7 4 11 83
Corson Green  (D) Central Illinois Flying Aces USHL 7 1 0 1 24
Sioux Falls Stampede USHL 19 1 3 4 39
2018 or '19 Commits
Ryan Verrier*  (D) Green Bay Gamblers USHL 25 3 6 9 20
2019 Commits
Lucas Bahn  (D) Sioux City Musketeers USHL 27 1 5 6 17
Nolan McElhaney  (D) Cushing Academy NE Prep 17 10 16 26 16
Chase Stevenson  (F) West Kelowna Warriors BCHL 30 7 11 18 23
2019 or '20 Commits
Jackson Pierson*  (F) Culver Academy Prep 24 21 31 52 -
Green Bay Gamblers USHL 2 0 0 0 0
Connor Sweeney  (F) Lawrence Academy NE Prep 13 2 5 7 6
Marek Wazny  (F) Burlington Cougars OJHL 21 5 13 18 8
Brookings Blizzard NAHL 7 0 0 0 0
2020 Commits
Tim Stützle  (F) Mannheim Young Eagles DNL U19 16 13 18 31 8
Team Germany U18 Intl 2 2 0 2 4
Team Germany U16 Intl 6 4 3 7 -
* = Signed National Letter of Intent

News & Notes

British Columbia Hockey League:

~ 2019 Commit Chase Stevenson sustained a lower body injury during the Canada West tryout camp for the World Junior A Challenge. He hopes to return to the West Kelowna Warriors' lineup in about 3 weeks.

National Collegiate Development Conference:

~ 2018 Commit Joey Cipollone was named to the NCDC All-Star Game which takes place this Monday at Merrimack College. Cipollone (32GP 15G 21A) is tied for 6th in NCDC scoring.

~ Liam Darcy will not be playing hockey for UNH in the future. It's highly likely the NCDC All-Star will play for some NCAA team. I wish him the best of luck!

Prep School:

~ 2019 UNH Commit Nolan McElhaney, scored his 10th goal of the season in a 3-6 loss to Salisbury earlier this week. The Cushing Academy senior leads all New England Prep School defensemen in scoring (1.53 Points Per Game).

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Nolan McElhaney: Cushing Academy Defenseman Commits to UNH

Nolan McElhaney
2019 UNH Commit
"Long reach, soft hands, and a swift first pass. Is a high-ceiling prospect." Neutral Zone
"He (Nolan McElhaney) skates well for his size, with great long strides." U.S. Hockey Report
"He is a strong skater with great acceleration who has the offensive instincts to jump into the rush, and he continues to show a rapidly developing offensive game." Steve Jacobs, Head Coach, Cushing Academy
Since Mike Souza returned to his alma mater in July, 2015 as the "head coach in waiting", he has helped recruit several big, mobile defensemen who can thrive in UNH's transition style of play. These include sophomore Anthony Wyse (6'3", 225 lbs.), freshmen Max Gildon (6'3", 191 lbs.), Benton Maass (6'2", 195 lbs.), and James Miller (6'2", 190 lbs.) and 2018 commit Corson Green (6'1", 210 lbs.). A couple weeks ago, another defenseman in that mold committed to UNH. Nolan McElhaney, a 6'3", 190 lbs., right-shot defenseman from Yorba Linda, California, by way of Cushing Academy, is projected to matriculate in the fall of 2019.

Player Team League GP Goals Asst Pts PIM
2017-'18
Nolan McElhaney  (D) Cushing Academy NE Prep 14 9 15 24 14
EMass Senators MHSL U18 18 7 6 13 24
2016-'17
Cushing Academy NE Prep 32 5 10 15 -
EMass Senators MHSL U18 14 1 8 19 15
2015-'16
Cushing Academy NE Prep 31 3 4 7 -
Junior Bruins MHSL U16 11 4 2 6 10


Scouts who have followed McElhaney since he came to Massachusetts as a freshman at Cushing Academy have identified his high-end potential. In December, 2015, U.S. Hockey Report said he "could get a lot of attention in the years to come". Soon after the Neutral Zone scouting service launched, they observed McElhaney at the Massachusetts Tier 1 Labor Day Showcase in September, 2016 and wrote:
"Nolan has a lot of tools. He is 6’3”, handled the puck very well and takes passing lanes away with his long reach. He looked poised on the power play and scored a very nice goal. The 1999 from CA is an elite talent who has a ton of upside."
McElhaney began last season as a 170 lbs. junior at Cushing. He scored 5 goals and 8 assists in 29 regular season games. Cushing Academy qualified for the New England Prep Small School playoffs. In 3 games, McElhaney tallied 2 assists but the Penguins lost in the finals 2-3 to Pomfret. Neutral Zone's review of the Championship Game served as a marker on McElhaney's progress:
"McElhaney is a tall, thin, raw but mobile defenseman. He doesn’t have the strength to play the game the way he wants to play it but is able to defend with his long stick and body positioning. He’s got a decent shot from the point and did a nice job here in keeping pucks in the offensive zone. He made a few nice breakout passes and broke up a few passes in his own end but overall it was a quiet game for Nolan. We still believe he has great upside as he fills into his body and plays a more shutdown game, but he’s got a long way to go."
The 2017-18 New England Prep regular season is less than half over and Nolan McElhaney has already demonstrated gains in several areas. He has added 20 lbs. to his 6'3" frame. Over the first 14 games, he has already doubled his scoring totals from last season. Among all New England Prep defensemen, McElhaney has tallied the most goals (9), assists (15) and points (24). His 1.71 points per game average is the highest among all defensemen and 10th among all New England Prep players.

Groton/Lawrence Holiday Hockey Tournament

At the Groton/Lawrence tourney in mid-December, McElhaney won the Most Valuable Player award and Cushing won the championship. He tallied a goal and the overtime, game-winning assist against Lawrence Academy, which includes UNH commit Connor Sweeney. He posted 4 assists, including the game-winning assist, in the 5-0 shutout of Pomfret and added another goal in the 4-1 defeat of Holderness. In the championship game, Cushing defeated Culver Academy, which features UNH commit Jackson Pierson. McElhaney scored his 3rd goal of the tournament in the 3-1 victory. Here's Neutral Zone's review of McElhaney's performance at the Groton/Lawrence Tourney:

"Nolan had a big weekend. He committed to UNH shortly after the tournament. He is still a little raw but has started to piece everything together. He is very long and still has room to fill out. He moves well for a bigger body and has the speed to recover on defense. He was impressive offensively on the weekend, consistently activating into the play to create scoring opportunities. On the back-end he uses a long reach to keep forwards to the outside. He is not overly physical, but doesn’t shy away from contact. Should only get better."
Overall Player Rating - 3 3/4 out 5 Stars.

E.G. Watkins/Cushing New Years Tournament

Following a 12-day break for the Christmas holiday, Nolan McElhaney and the Cushing Academy Penguins returned to action in the 27th Annual E.G. Watkins New Years Invitational Tournament at Iorio Arena on the Cushing campus. The day before the tourney began, Cushing Head Coach Steve Jacobs provided me with this assessment of McElhaney's strengths:
"Nolan is a highly competitive character player with a strong "all around" game. He has length at 6'3 and is hockey smart. He is a strong skater with great acceleration who has the offensive instincts to jump into the rush, and he continues to show a rapidly developing offensive game. He is a crisp and accurate passer who plays with poise and he makes high end plays. His battle level is always high in both practice and games, and he leads by example with his day to day preparation. He contributes at both ends of the ice and on both special teams. He is a dominant player at the prep school level."
In Cushing's opening game against Northfield-Mount Hermon, McElhaney's offensive blitz continued with an assist and the overtime, game-winning goal. He picked up another goal and 2 assists in the 5-0 win over Governor's Academy. Finally, McElhaney distributed 2 assists in the 3-2 overtime victory over Dexter in the 3rd-Place game. The second assist was critical as it came on the game-tying goal in the final minute of regulation. Both of McElhaney's goals and this game-tying assist in the Watkins Tournament are shown in this highlight video. Note how these goals come from the faceoff circles:

Interview

I had an opportunity to interview Nolan McElhaney, via email, about his hockey career and commitment to UNH:

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): Congratulations on your commitment to play for the University of New Hampshire. What are the main reasons you chose UNH?

Nolan McElhaney: I chose UNH because I loved the campus and its the best place for me for school. I also really like what the coaching staff is trying to do within the next couple years and I want to be a part of what they are trying to accomplish. I am a huge fan of the big ice sheet as it compliments my style of play very well, so I believe that I would be able to take over during games. Practicing and playing every day on that ice will get me more ready for the next level. The positive atmosphere of the games is a thrill, furthermore I have always wanted to be a part of those games.



Mike Lowry: Have you and the UNH coaches agreed on a target date for you to enroll as a freshman at UNH and join the team?

Nolan McElhaney: We have a target date for the fall of 2019 but Coach Souza might want me to come in during the summer before to take some courses.



Lowry: What other college programs were you considering? Which schools did you visit and which ones made an offer to you?

McElhaney: Other schools I was considering were Providence College, Umass Lowell, UConn, and Boston University. I went to Providence over the summer and I wasn’t offered anywhere else at the time when I took UNH’s offer.



Lowry: At this stage in your hockey development, what are the strengths of your game? What areas are you trying to improve?

McElhaney: My strengths of my game include my shot, my first pass up ice, my ability to jump in the play and create offense, and how I can be a shut down guy if I need to be. I'm trying to improve my defensive zone positioning and finishing off plays before jumping in the play. I need to focus more on becoming a better skater before I come into UNH. I am also trying to add weight and strength to my body.



Lowry: Last year, in your junior season at Cushing Academy, you scored 5 goals and 10 assists in 32 games. So far this season, in only 10 games, you've scored 7 goals and 10 assists. What factors have lead to this big jump in performance?

McElhaney: I was in the weight room all summer only focusing on getting better and stronger. I worked on the areas I needed to work on, on the ice, to bring my game to the next level. I also have gained a lot of confidence from the NCAA and junior interest and it keeps my confidence up. Our team has a goal and I just want to be the best I can be for them in accomplishing that goal. Coach Jacobs has also really helped me this year in becoming more calm and a more consistent player. My D-partner, Cam Berube, has also been pushing me to become the best I could be the past three years and I try to match his intensity every game, practice and day.



Lowry: Last June, you participated in the Sioux Falls Stampede's tryout camp. Do you plan to play in either the United States Hockey League or British Columbia Hockey League before you come to UNH?

McElhaney: I plan on playing in the USHL next year before I come to UNH in 2019. Not sure where I will end up in the USHL but wherever I do, I know I will love the atmosphere of playing in that league and love the style of juniors.



Lowry: You grew up in Yorba Linda, Orange County, California. When did you first start skating and playing hockey? Who helped spur your interest in the sport?

McElhaney: I started skating around 2 years old and started hockey around 3. My dad went to prep school at Lawrence Academy and played in college at Clarkson, so he was always a fan of hockey. My mom says that she pushed me more to play hockey, so my mom is the one who really introduced me to the sport. My dad just had the background in hockey.



Lowry: In your freshman and sophomore years at Orange Lutheran High School, the team advanced to the USA Hockey National Championships. Why did you decide to come east to Cushing Academy?

McElhaney: It was fun playing in California, but it wasn't as competitive as I would like. As being the only kid wanting to play Division I college hockey, I knew I had to go out east where every game is competitive and every kid has the dream of playing college hockey. My dad went to Lawrence Academy but that wasn't on my list of schools. Once I visited Cushing, it felt like home for me and I was pleased with what Coach Gagnon told me about the program at Cushing and the future. Coming to Cushing was the best choice I could have made. I have had the best time here and a lot of fun playing for such a prestigious program that there is at Cushing. I knew as soon as I toured that this place would get me to the next level while being a great fit for me.



Lowry: What are your academic strengths and interests? Have you thought about what you might major in when you enroll at UNH?

McElhaney: I really like Math and Science, those are my top two classes in school. I will probably study Business and Finance.



Friday, December 22, 2017

UNH Commits Update: December-22-2017



Angus Crookshank
2018 UNH Commit
Joey Cipollone
2018 UNH Commit
Jackson Pierson
2019 or '20 UNH Commit

Player Spotlight - Angus Crookshank

2018 Commit Angus Crookshank not only made Team Canada West, he lead them on the road to the gold medal in the 2017 World Junior A Challenge (WJAC). Canada West, which included the top players from the Junior A leagues in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, started off slowly losing to the Czech Republic 2-5. In Game 2, they battled the top players from the United States Hockey League in what turned out to be a preview of the Gold Medal game. Early in the second period, Team USA struck first but Canada West answered on the next shift when Crookshank made a pretty pass (see highlight video) to Ross Armour (Trail Smoke Eaters; Bemidji State commit). Crookshank, who plays center for the Langley Rivermen, primarily played left wing throughout the WJAC. Team USA scored the winning goal with 32 seconds left in regulation. Crookshank was named the Player of the Game for Canada West.

Canada West downed Canada East 4-3 in overtime in the do-or-die quarterfinal game. In the semifinals, they faced the undefeated Czech Republic and beat them convincingly 5-1. Angus Crookshank's game-winning goal came on a wrist shot from a nearly impossible angle (see video). The championship game featured a rematch between Team USA and Canada West. Once again, Crookshank scored the game-winning goal and also dished the primary assist on Canada West's 4th goal in the 5-1 victory.



Angus Crookshank tallied 2 goals and 3 assists in the 5 WJAC games. He was the second-leading scorer in the tournament. He also tied for 3rd in goals and tied for 2nd in assists. Crookshank returns to action with Langley in the BCHL on December 29th. Earlier this week, he was chosen to participate in the Canadian Junior Hockey League Prospects Game scheduled for January 23rd in Mississauga, Ontario. The NHL Central Scouting Service selected the players who are eligible for the 2018 NHL Draft next June in Dallas.

Player Spotlight - Joey Cipollone

In November and December, Joey Cipollone was a consistent and top scorer for the Boston Junior Bruins in the National Collegiate Development Conference (NCDC). He scored a goal in 10 out of 13 games and tallied a total of 11 goals and 7 assists. Two of the goals were game-winners including this one off a faceoff play in the 5-1 win over the P.A.L. Junior Islanders last Sunday:



Cipollone, who is the first-line, left winger for the Jr. Bruins, is currently the 3rd leading goal scorer in the NCDC. He's also tied for 4th in scoring and T-7 in assists. The Jr. Bruins are in second place in the NCDC, 4 points behind the Islanders Hockey Club. Cipollone signed a National Letter of Intent with UNH in November and will enroll at UNH next fall.

Player Spotlight - Jackson Pierson

2019 or '20 Commit Jackson Pierson (DOB: 9/10/1999) is the 5'9", 170 lbs., starting center for Culver Academy. The Eagles are ranked #2 in the nation among all Tier 1 18U Leagues. Through the first 13 games of Culver's 2017-18 season, Pierson was tied for the team lead in goal scoring. Here is his 14th goal of the season scored in a 5-3 victory over St. Andrews College - notice how Pierson (#18) begins the scoring play by body-checking an opposing player into the half-wall and causing a turnover:



Culver Military Academy is located in northern Indiana in the town of Culver. Last weekend, the Eagles traveled to the Groton Lawrence Tourney to play three New England Prep School teams. Culver (16-1-0) won the first three games against Groton School (9-1), Dexter Academy (3-1), and Proctor Academy (5-2). In the championship game, Culver fell to Cushing Academy 1-3. From January 28-30, Culver will compete in the 2017 Edward G. Watkins Invitational Tournament at Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, Massachusetts. Three UNH Commits - Jackson Pierson (Culver), Connor Sweeney (Lawrence Academy) and newest commit Nolan McElhaney (Cushing) - are scheduled to play.

2017-18 Statistics

NOTE
The statistics for the commits, presented in the following table, are categorized by the projected year they will enroll in UNH. For example, the "2018 Commits" are projected to begin playing for UNH in the Fall of 2018. I have based these projections on a number of factors including:
~ If a National Letter of Intent has been signed.
~ The year the commit and UNH coaches originally targeted for enrollment in UNH.
~ How old the commit would be upon admission.
~ Number of years in junior hockey prior to admission.
~ The commit's performance in recent seasons as well as injuries.
~ Anticipated date of high school graduation.
~ Number of UNH players leaving the team at the end of the previous season and the position they played.

Player Team League GP Goals Asst Pts PIM
2018 Commits
Joey Cipollone*  (F) Junior Bruins NCDC 30 15 19 34 16
Angus Crookshank*  (F) Langley Rivermen BCHL 22 14 11 25 16
Team Canada West WJAC 5 2 3 5 2
Eric Esposito*  (F) Youngstown Phantoms USHL 22 6 4 10 66
Corson Green  (D) Central Illinois Flying Aces USHL - - - - -
Sioux Falls Stampede USHL 19 1 3 4 39
2018 or '19 Commits
Ryan Verrier*  (D) Green Bay Gamblers USHL 19 2 6 8 18
2019 Commits
Lucas Bahn  (D) Sioux City Musketeers USHL 21 1 4 5 2
Nolan McElhaney  (D) Cushing Academy NE Prep 10 7 10 17 -
Chase Stevenson  (F) West Kelowna Warriors BCHL 30 7 11 18 23
2019 or '20 Commits
Jackson Pierson*  (F) Culver Academy Prep 13 14 16 30 -
Green Bay Gamblers USHL 2 0 0 0 0
Connor Sweeney  (F) Lawrence Academy NE Prep 7 1 3 4 2
Marek Wazny  (F) Burlington Cougars OJHL 17 5 10 15 8
Brookings Blizzard NAHL 7 0 0 0 0
* = Signed National Letter of Intent

News & Notes

United States Hockey League:

~ 2018 Commit Corson Green was traded from the Sioux Falls Stampede to the Central Illinois Flying Aces. Last season, the 6'1", 210 lbs., left-shot defenseman scored 5 goals and 10 assists in 48 regular season games with the Chicago Steel. During Chicago's run to the USHL Championship/Clark Cup, Green tallied 3 assists. In 19 games with the South Dakota team, he scored a goal and 3 assists.

Prep School:

~ Nolan McElhaney, the 18-year-old captain of the Cushing Academy Penguins, committed to UNH earlier this week. The Neutral Zone scouting service provided this summary of the right-shot defenseman's strengths:
"3.75 Star prospect is a tall, thin, athletic, mobile & multi-purpose defenseman w/ a long reach, soft hands & a swift first pass. Is a high-ceiling prospect who earned A in the Lawrence-Groton Tournament and is ranked as a Top 10 prep hockey defenseman."
Look for a feature article on McElhaney, including an interview, coming soon on the blog.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

UNH Plays of the Game: UNH 1 Providence 0

Rich Boyd
Game-Winning Goal


A week ago, UNH needed a win against the Yale Bulldogs. The Wildcats had lost 3 games in a row and had fallen from #9 to #13 in the USCHO.com Division I National Poll. Senior goalie and Alternate Captain Danny Tirone came up big in a 4-0 shutout down in New Haven. He was named the Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week and UNH held on to #13 in the nation.

Last night, UNH badly needed a win. Providence College, ranked #8 in the nation, handed UNH its fourth consecutive loss in Hockey East competition on Friday night at Schneider Arena. The 2-5 defeat dropped their HE record to 3-4-1 while PC improved to 6-3-1. Another loss on Saturday at the Whittemore Center would have been the fourth consecutive loss at home.

In the latest UNH Captain's Corner, Dylan Chanter mapped out the team's path a return to the NCAA Tournament:
"One of our team goals is to finish as a top-four team in Hockey East this year. By doing so, we would put ourselves in a good spot nationally and have a great shot at making the tournament."
If UNH lost to PC last night, they would have been 4 points behind 4th place Boston University, 7 behind Northeastern, 8 behind Providence, and 11 points behind first-place Boston College. The Wildcats have 15 games remaining against Hockey East teams. So the game against Providence wasn't a do-or-die situation, but it was important. In an exciting, fast-paced contest, UNH scored in the first period and kept PC off the board for a 1-0 victory.

Here's a video review of what I believe were the key plays.

Play, Goal, Assist, and Hit of the Game

Usually, I break down the key plays into distinct items - play of the game, goal of the game, save of the game, etc. But in the UNH shut out of Providence, I think the hit, assist, and goal all came in the same sequence and formed the "Play of the Game". It began with senior defenseman Rich Boyd preventing the puck from leaving the PC zone along the half-wall to the right of goalie Hayden Hawkey and sending it back around the boards. Fellow senior Shane Eiserman poked the puck along the boards behind the goal line.

PC freshman defenseman Jake Ryczek, who originally committed to UNH before changing his mind in favor of Providence, attempted to control the puck behind the net. At that moment, junior Marcus Vela leveled the "Hit of the Game" taking Ryczek into the boards and out of the play.

Ara Nazarian, playing on the first forward line with Eiserman and Vela, jumped on the loose puck and feathered a pass out to the top of the slot to Boyd - the "Assist of the Game".

Rich Boyd, who missed most of last season battling an internal health problem, slung a wrist shot past three players and over the glove of Hawkey. Time of the "Goal of the Game" was 7:12 of the first period. Here's the whole sequence in real time and slow motion:

Saves of the Game: Danny Tirone

En route to his 4th shutout of the 2017-18, Danny Tirone made 24 saves. Three of his best came in the 2nd period, two on the power play.

Defensive Play of the Game: Michael McNicholas & Anthony Wyse

With 1:47 left in regulation, PC head coach Nate Leaman pulled his goalie for an extra attacker. Their best scoring bid came with just under a minute to go. Brandon Duhaime got open in the top of the slot but as he received a pass and attempted a shot, both senior forward Michael McNicholas and sophomore defenseman Anthony Wyse surrounded him and deflected the shot up into the netting behind the goal. As the replay shows, this play was particularly important because Tirone was screened by a single PC player in front of the net.



The Wildcats return to nonconference action on Wednesday at RPI. Next weekend features home games against Army on Saturday and Merrimack College on Sunday.

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