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Sunday, August 28, 2011

August 29, 2011 newsletter is now ready! POE lands two more star forwards

In this edition of the newsletter we continue to adjust the rankings prior to the start of the season in all four provinces and the western States. The 97'sr, 98's and the western USA prospects.

In the interview section, I had a chance to speak with one of the top defenseman in Alberta who comes from a defenseman factory if you will in recent seasons. I also spoke with a star forward from Saskatchewan who will be one of the top scorers in the newly formed AAA league. We speak with a goalie from southern Alberta who could be one of the first goalies selected on draft day. Lastly, I spoke with a BC player who is welcoming a change to a very good hockey program.

The AMBHL South is previewed and we look at the top teams, top players for each team, incoming rookies and more.

***POE has landed Winnipeg 97 born star forward Ethan Williams.  Williams played with the Winnipeg Hawks last year and was the league's leading goal scorer with 30 goals.  The POE program will also have Lethbridge's Kody McDonald join the squad.  Mcdonald played last season in the SCAHL where he scored 47 goals, placing him 3rd in league goal scoring behind Jaeger White (124) and Dillon Dube (69).

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

BWC suffers blow

The BWC Bruins will be without one of their top players for an indefinite period of time to start the season after Adam Musil suffered a broken wrist.  Musil joined the BWC after leaving South Delta where he played his rookie bantam season.  Of course we also know that BWC lost Chris Seto to Cloverdale to join forces with fellow first round prospect Tyler Soy.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

POE- Jordan Kawaguchi Q & A

Likely 1st round prospect Jordan Kawaguchi
 Entering the 2011-2012 season, it is thought that Jordan Kawaguchi has a very good shot at going in the first round and quite possibly in the top 10 picks.  The cousin of WHL former 6th overall bantam selection Devin Setoguchi, Jordan will look to mirror his cousins success which has led Devin to the NHL.

Starting back in your minor hockey days. Where did you play growing up and what were some of your favorite personal and team highlights?

I grew up playing minor hockey in Abbotsford. Some highlights that I remember are winning the league banner in my first year of atom playing A1. Another highlight was my 2nd year of Peewee when we played in the Regina Tournament and I scored 4 goals to put us into the finals. I came within a few points of winning the same MVP trophy that my cousin Devin Setoguchi had won at the same Peewee tournament. My latest highlight would be the Abbotsford win over Burnaby Winter Club in last year's Provincials, where I scored 2 goals, it felt good to be able to contribute to my team.

You split last season between the Abbotsford A2 and Abbotsford A1 teams, having success and both levels. How would you describe your rookie bantam season?
Not making the A1 team in my first year of Bantam was a big eye opener. It taught me that you can't take things for granted, you need work for everything you want. But playing A2 gave me a lot of confidence and experience in playing in every game situation. I think this allowed me to have success when I was called up to the A1 team.

Talk a little bit about playing for such a good summer hockey program with the Vancouver Selects Blue and how you feel this will help you moving forward this coming season?
The Vancouver Selects program is a top notch organization. I was lucky enough to be part of a great 1997 team that played all across the country against high level teams that played different styles of hockey. The coaching of Brad Bowen, Steve Potomak, John Craighead, and Cliff Ronning have given me a lot of tools to work with.

You have decided to leave Abbotsford and head to the Pursuit of Excellence hockey academy. What was the reason for leaving and joining POE and how do you feel this will benefit you moving forward?
Leaving Abbotsford was a hard decision to make, especially leaving a good program like the Fraser/Yale Hockey Academy. But when I was introduced to the Pursuit of Excellence, I liked their training program and felt that it would give me a jump start to my strength and conditioning. I feel sad that I'm leaving Abbotsford, but I feel as though I need a fresh start to my game.

You are the cousin of former WHL first round selection and star WHL Setoguchi who also plays in the NHL with the Minnesota Wild. How close are you guys and does he give you any pointers?
Yes, Devin Setoguchi is my cousin, I try to see him every time he comes to town when he plays the Canucks.Every summer my brothers and I go to his hockey camp in Alberta. He has been a very big role model for me.

Explain some of the weaknesses in your game that you would like to work on this coming season to be a high bantam selection? On the other hand, what are the strengths that set you apart from most players?
One of the biggest reasons for going to POE is the off ice training program. I want to get bigger and stronger. My favorite player in the NHL (besides Setoguchi) is Pavel Datsyuk. I try to model my game after him - great vision on the ice, an outstanding playmaker that can score goals.

What future hockey goals do you have set out for yourself and now do you hope to obtain these goals?
My biggest goal is to play in the NHL. Making some tough decisions such as going to POE and working hard, I feel will help me get to the next level which is the WHL Bantam Draft.

Finally, which players in your age group most impress you in overall hockey skill and character?
This question is hard to answer, since there are a lot of great players, each bringing something different to a team. Matthew Barzal, Noah Juulsen, Adam Musil, Darien Craighead, Matthew Bradley, Tyler Soy, Daniel Woolfenden, Tanner Browne, Justin Szeto, etc. ....all of these top notch players, I've been lucky enough to share the ice with.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Notre Dame lands Cole Williams

The Notre Dame bantam AAA Hounds defence has just gotten stronger with the addition of Cole Williams from South Delta.  Williams said he wasn't happy with his 2010-2011 season and is very much looking forward to a change and playing with a great program like Notre Dame.

Williams will be joined on the blueline by star defenceman Ethan Bear.  Bear could be the top defenceman in Saskatchewan this season.

AMBHL North Preview

For the full 6 page preview, please view the newsletter.

Nitro North
1. CAC Lehigh Cement
2. St. Albert Sabres
3. SSAC Southgate Lions
4. KC Squires
5. Sherwood Park Flyers
6. MLAC Scott Pump

Top Scorers
*Giorgio Estephan, Matteo Gennaro,  Dylan Stewart, Andrew Marshall and Brayden Burke

Top Defenceman
Cam Reagan, LJ Naccarato, *Justin Greer, Dylan Overdyk.

Top Rookies
Alex Rotundo, Nolan Volcan, PJ Morroco, Chris Verklan, *Sam Steel, Dylan Overdyk, Derek Brown and David Quennville.

Charger North
Camrose Kodiaks
Lloydminster Heat
Leduc Allen's Transport
Spruce Grove PAC Saints
Fort Saskatchewan Rangers
Grand Prairie Storm

Top Forwards
Curtis Miske, Landon Pilger, *Andrew Koep, Matt Fonteyne, Tristan Starzynski, Justin Jacobsen

Top Defenceman
Nathan Bizeau, *Kale Clague, Logan Riexinger, *Aaron Kellogg, Brendan Guhle

Top Rookies
Riley Mathies, Connor Middleton, Zach Fischer, Tristan Starzysnki

Monday, August 15, 2011

August 15, 2011 newsletter is now ready!

The August 15, 2011 newsletter is now ready to be issued.

In this edition we continue to update the lists prior to the start of the season.

We start to preview the various leagues across western Canada and start with a 6 page preview on the AMBHL North and how things are likely to shape up. We look at who will make the playoffs, the key players for each team, top rookie and much more.

I had a chance to speak with a couple team-mates from Alberta who are ready to lead their team to a league title after a subpar 2010-2011 season. I also speak with a player who played AA hockey last year but could do some major damage in AAA this year in the goal scoring department. Finally, I speak with a player coming off a very strong Regina prospects camp a couple weeks ago.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Top Saskatchewan '97 dman Ethan Bear to Notre Dame

 First round prospect Ethan Bear will be leaving Melville and joining the Notre Dame Bantam AAA Hounds this season.  Bear, is the top '97 born defenceman in Saskatchewan currently and possesses a very good all around game making him a top prospect.  Bear led his bantam AAA team in scoring with Melville scoring 16-19-35 in just 21 games played.  It was initially though that Bear along with returning forwards Tyler Kreklewich, Donavon Neuls and Rykr Cole would perhaps lead Melville to a provincial title in Saskatchewan.

Bear was a key cog on team Pepsi for spring hockey, scoring better than a point per game. 

Jaeger White to stay in Medicine Hat

In the end, White wasn't ready to leave home and has decided to stay and play with Medicine Hat.  The only thing that could throw a wrench in to the situation is if he can't get in to his old school, but the family doesn't think that will be a problem in the end.  White says he has wanted to play for a coach like Jason Bertram for quite a while now and will give it his all to try and make the squad.  White says, "Bertram coached my  to brother Torrin when they won the peewee championships a few years back and we will be a tough, hard team to play against.  I would like to think I could be top 5 in league scoring if I make AAA". 

Jordan Taupert who is another high scoring first year player will also be staying in Medicine Hat after the possibility that he would be moving to Ontario.  Other players on Medicine Hat to watch will be:  Vandersloot, Hallas, Verge and Lauber.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Top AMBHL First year players in seasons past

With yesterday's news of 1998 born, first year bantam player Jaeger White heading to Airdrie for his bantam hockey season, I thought it would be interesting to look at a few of the top first year players from seasons past.   It will be interesting to see how Jaeger will compare to Ty Rattie who was also a prolific sniper in Peewee before joining Airdrie back in the 06-07 season as a first year player.  That year Rattie scored 26-32-58.  This coming after he scored 95 goals in his final Peewee season.  Of course we all know about Jaeger White scoring 124 goals last year with Medicine Hat.  Torrin White, who was taken in the first round of the WHL bantam draftin 2010 put up 12-13-25 with Medicine Hat in his rookie year of bantam and then scored 47 in his draft year.  Time will tell what numbers Jaeger will put up!

Giorgio Estephan  27-37-64
Mason McCarty  12-25-37
Matt Fonteyne  16-20-36
Nick Merkley  16-18-34

Riley Simpson  20-23-43
Tyler Wong  23-19-42
Kord Pankewicz  22-20-42
Tanner Macmaster 18-21-39

Tyson Baillie  20-21-41
Jon Merkley 21-17-38
Morgan Klimchuk 13-22-35
Preston Kopeck 14-20-34

Mike Winther  29-33-62
Levi Bews  26-12-38
Brandon Magee 20-25-45

Ty Rattie  26-32-58
Colin Smith  24-37-61
Klarc Wilson  19-37-56
Mark McNeill 22-14-36
Brendan Hurley  29-27-56

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Jaeger White to play for Airdrie

Jaeger White is expected to be a goal scoring force in his rookie year
The decision has been made by the White family and in the end they have chosen to play close to their home in Medicine Hat with the Airdrie Extreme.  White, who set a SCAHL goal scoring record in Peewee last season with 124 goals in 30 games, leading the league by 55 goals over the second place player Dillon Dube who will also join Jaeger with Airdrie.  Jaeger also added 12 goals and 18 points in 5 playoff games tieing the aforementioned Dube atop the SCAHL playoff scoring race.

Jaeger says he is looking forward to being a scoring threat playing along side Ryan Barrow, Tristan Thompson and Dube.  Marshall Burr anchors the blueline for Airdrie.

Jaeger's brother Torrin was a first round draft pick of the Moose Jaw Warriors and also was a big time scoring threat with a AMBHL league leading 47 goals in 28 games in his draft year.

Oliver Lester - Q & A

Oliver Lester is expected to be drafted in the first couple rounds

Starting back in your minor hockey days, what are some of your favourite memories on both a personal and team level?

One year my spring team won the Stampede Challenge, and I was picked Finals MVP. The prize was a small TV. It was a pretty sweet moment on a personal level and great moment to share with my teammates

You had a very successful season on a powerhouse Calgary Bisons team. What do you feel was the biggest reason for that type of success from the blue-line?
My team this year scored a lot of goals and I think a big part of it was from the blue line, we had a lot of guys that had great quick puck moving ability. It really helped the forwards so they could get the puck faster, and more, and it gave them more opportunities to create offence. It helped having that skill from the back end, and it is definitely one of the reasons we made it so far in playoffs.

What can you learn from a player like Brycen Martin who was the first defenseman taken last year in the bantam draft and a former team-mate of yours?
Brycen is a great player and he dominates and controls the game every shift. The biggest thing I learned from him is pre-game preparation and being ready for the game. Along with that he taught me how to practice, getting better every day and improving on things that need work. He is a great teammate and leader, showing me how to lead by example and pushing teammates, something I can hopefully do next year with the Bisons.

Explain some of your strengths and weaknesses as a player? What are you doing to fix those weaknesses heading in to your bantam draft season?
I think one of my strengths is my offensive ability, rushing the puck and creating offense by making good passes and pucks on net. I think that one of my weaknesses is making the right decisions every play and making sure that the best option is hit so that my team has a better chance at getting the puck in a good spot, and of course, not making risky plays that may result in turnovers.

What type of goals to you have in the game of hockey? Do you want to go far or are you just playing for fun at this point in time?
I am not looking to the future too much, just trying every day to improve as much as I can and become a more complete defenseman. My goals though are to play a really solid season this year in the AMBHL and make Major Midget AAA as a 15 year old, from there, I want to play in the WHL.

Who are some of the players in your age group that impress you the most on a talent and character level?
I have been fortunate to play with so many great players that have been great teammates and I have so much respect for all of them.

What type of activities do you enjoy doing away from the rink to tame your mind off of hockey for a bit?
Whenever I get the chance to have free time away from the rink or training, I like to spend it with my family and friends. Aside from hockey, I like to run track and field, and cross country.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Track Star Tyree Harriott will choose Hockey over track

Courtesy  Jesse Snyder

He may be tall for his age, but 13-year-old Tyree Harriott carries himself like any average Grade 8 student.

That is, until he explodes from the starting blocks and sprints 100 metres down the track - in all of 11.55 seconds.

Harriott will be one of three 13-and 14-year-olds representing Zone 3 (including Alberta, B.C., Idaho and Oregon) at the Hershey track and field championships held in Hershey, Pa., on Saturday. He'll be running the 200-metre race.

"It's definitely going to be way tougher," Harriott said of the competition. "It's going to be really different. I don't know how I'll stack up against them."

Coming from Edmonton, Harriott is looking forward to making the leap into international competition. At six-foot, he has "longer strides than most people," and consistently wins by a comfortable margin.

"Usually, when I run against people from Alberta, it's a big beating," he said, in a comment that was more honest than confident.

Currently, the young up-and-comer holds the 300-metre outdoor provincial record and the 200-metre indoor provincial record, which had not been broken for nearly 20 years. He's applying for the Alberta 100-metre record, too, because of a timing discrepancy in a recent race.

But he hardly sees himself as a runner. His true passion is on the ice, where he plays for the Knights of Columbus Squires Bantam AAA team. He will be joining the Hockey Academe at St. Thomas Moore school next year, and hopes to be drafted to the WHL in his first year of eligibility.

He isn't sure which sport he wants to pursue professionally, though he might devote himself to running if it presents an opportunity for him.

"If I find I have a really good chance in track, I'll probably choose it," Harriott said.

For now, he just runs for the competition of it; he rarely allows himself to dwell on past wins and losses, or worry about upcoming races.

"I run every race with no regrets; what happens just happens," he said.

It's something his father and race coach, Ian Harriott, has always taught him. When he was an NCAA runner at Auburn University of Alabama, Ian felt a sudden numbness in the left side of his body, and had to stop competing.

He saw a number of specialists all around the U.S., but none offered any answers.

"Up to this day, no one knows what caused it," said Ian.

Now, he plays the role of coach, teaching his son to leave it all out on the track and never hesitate.

"He has got a lot of ability," Ian said. "I think he's going to be better than me."

They train together three to four days a week, along with Tyree's 15-year-old brother, Ian Jr., whom Tyree also looks to for inspiration.

Their mother, Diana, drives them to the south Edmonton's Rollie Miles track on practice days. Ian Sr. usually gets there shortly after working a full day, and the four of them are usually together at the track for many hours every week of the summer.

"They inspire me and support me," Tyree said of his family, especially his brother. "They make you do your best all the time."

Also representing Zone 3 at the Hershey's tournament: Sophie Sigfstead, girls 11-12 800 metre; Emma Curle, girls 13-14 800 metre; Eric Lutz, boys 13-14 800 metre; Chuba Nwachukwu, boys 11-12 standing long jump.

© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Mentorship Cup Today!

1st overall WHL selection Jake Virtanen
The Allstate All-Canadians Mentorship Cup will take place today in Toronto with puck drop slated for 1pm EST.  You can catch the game on TSN2 at 2pm EST.  The 42 bantam aged players taking part in the game today will be split in to two teams to be coached by Jason Spezza and Luke Schenn.

This is a very interesting game to watch as 17 players born in the 96 age group from across Western Canada will take part.  All players were ranked by Western Elite Hockey Prospects prior to the WHL Bantam Draft.  So many of you 1997 born top ranked players can look forward to possibly attending this program next year.

Below is the Western Elite Hockey Prospects ranking of the players taking part at the start of last year, midterm and final ranking.

British Columbia
Jake Virtanen -25 (prelim), 8 (midterm), 3 (Final)........1st overall
Joe Hicketts -8 (prelim), 4 (midterm), 16 (Final).......12th overall
Ryan Gropp -88 (prelim), 7 (midterm), 4 (Final)........6th overall
Peyton Lee - 41 (prelim), 42 (midterm), 58 (Final)........28th overall
Josh Thrower -46 (prelim), 33 (midterm), 24 (Final)........23rd overall

Brayden Point - 4 (prelim), 20 (midterm), 27 (Final).......14th overall
Ty Mappin -27 (prelim), 18 (midterm), 8 (Final)........7th overall
Reid Duke -24 (Prelim), 5 (midterm), 5 (Final).........5th overall
Tanner Macmaster -19 (prelim), 14 (midterm), 13 (Final)........19th overall
Brycen Martin - 5 (prelim), 17 (midterm), 2 (Final)...........2nd overall
Derek Mazil -50 (prelim), 91 (midterm), 105 (Final).......68th overall
Conner Bleackley -42 (prelim), 13 (midterm), 9 (Final)..........21st overall
Jordan Papirny - 32 (Prelim), 29 (midterm), 37 (Final)..........22nd overall

Miles Warkentine -23 (prelim), 34 (midterm), 10 (Final)..........16th overall
Reid Gardiner -18 (prelim), 15 (midterm), 7 (Final)...........8th overall
Jordan Harris -45 (prelim), 39 (midterm), 20 (Final).........10th overall
Ryan Pilon -17 (Prelim), 1 (Midterm), 1 (Final)...........3rd overall
Colin Shirley - 87 (prelim), 40 (midterm), 21 (Final).........17th overall

Jordan Thomson -16 (prelim), 9 (midterm), 6 (Final)........4th overall

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

First Round Prospect - Giorgio Estephan

Estephan is likely to be a top 10 pick on draft day
One player scouts will be watching very closely in the 2011-2012 season will be SSAC forward Giorgio Estephan.  The 5 '9 150lb star put up 27-37-64 while playing in all 33 games for the Alberta bantam champions.  He ended up 2nd in team scoring behind John Quennville.

Starting back in your minor hockey years, explain some of your favourite personal and team highlights and why?

One of my personal favorite moments in minor hockey, is winning the Triple Crown in Peewee AA. That year our team won Minor Hockey Week, was City Champions and won the Provincials. I scored the overtime winner in both the Minor Hockey week game and Provincials. We also won a few other tournaments that year. That was one of my best hockey experiences to date.

What was it like playing on one of the best teams in western Canada as a first year bantam? Do you think this helped ease your transition from peewee to bantam and make you a better player?
For the most part, I have been playing with my teammates since Novice. Every other year, we have put together one of the best teams in the province. Most of us go to the same school, so knowing how we all play together has been an easy transition. Over the years we have created great friendships and as a group have gotten stronger. For me, this will be another great hockey memory full of good times.

You had quite the successful first year of bantam with over 60 points and also winning rookie of the year in the North. What do you feel was the biggest reason for that type of early success?
For sure it has to be my teammates and especially my line mates. Without them or each other, we would not have had such a great season. My coaches had great confidence in me and allowed me to play in key situations throughout the year. Getting more ice time allowed me to get stronger throughout the year.

What are some of your strengths as a hockey player that separate you from the other players? Also what are some of your weaknesses you would like to work on?
I think that one of my strengths is in my skating. I have a regular workout and conditioning routine, and that has helped me get stronger. For me working on my skating will be an ongoing thing. I want to keep getting better and faster. Working on my skills – stick handling, quick releases will be something that I work on for sure.

Explain what you are doing this summer in terms of hockey camps, tournaments, training in order to hone up your game for the bantam season?
I have become more focused on training and conditioning this spring and summer. Spring hockey has been replaced with ball hockey, 3 on 3 and conditioning camps. Focusing on training will be what I do this summer. I have signed up for a few hockey camps (core hockey), plus we have a new Bantam AAA coach and he has his own summer conditioning camp that I will be attending.

You are likely to be one of the most talked about players by scouts entering your draft season. What do you plan to do to try to block this out and play your game?
I just have to try and play how I normally play and not worry about all of the other people who may be watching me. I learned a lot last year, so I plan on building on that next year.

Finally, which NHL player would you like to pattern your game after if you had a choice and are their any similarities between your game and that player?
Steven Stamkos is my favorite player. I watch him play all the time and like how he attacks the net. He has a great shot and I would like to model my game around him.