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Prosper the prospects - Junior Hockey News

Published: Sunday, 20 Jan 2013
By: Randy Russon

Today is a nice day. It's also an ice day.
Up here where I live, a Sault Ste. Marie rendition of the North Pole, it's hockey weather. When I walked the family dog this morning at about 7:30 a.m., another foot of freshly-fallen snow had covered the sidewalks and side streets like a white blanket. The air was crisp, there was no wind, and Stafford, my two-year old, female shepherd-husky and I made a half-hour trek of our neighborhood as content as two creatures could possibly be.
We both knew that upon returning to our 75-year old house, which is located about 1,500 feet from the St. Mary's River, that breakfast would be waiting for us, thanks to my wife, Mary. 
Well, breakfast is over, the driveway is shovelled and bright sunshine is adding to the crisp-clear beauty of the pure-as-white now.
It's hockey weather.   
About 120 North American Hockey League players will be showcased on a frozen stage in the Detroit suburb of Troy when the Top Prospects Tournament is held February 18-20.
The number of players that each NAHL team can to send to the tournament, in which five teams from five regional groups -- Dakota, Frontier, Great Lakes, Midwest and Texas, plus a sixth select squad made up of NAHL players under the age of 18 -- was based on each team's winning percentage this 2012-2013 season  as of January 14.

To be honest, I don't agree with the format that allows teams with a better winning percentage to send more players than those with a lesser winning percentage. I also don't agree that players who have already secured future Division 1, National Collegiate Athletic Association commitments should be a part of the tournament.
But that's just my opinion.
Even though I don't agree with the format, I do applaud the NAHL for continuing to showcase its players to the throng of scouts that is certain to gather at the Troy Sports Centre next month.
At any rate, following is the breakdown of divisions, teams, number of players from each team and coaches who will be at the February 18-20, NAHL Top Prospects Tournament.
Player rosters will be formally announced on Tuesday (January 22) on nahl.com.

DAKOTA: Austin Bruins (.797) will send five players, the Bismarck Bobcats (.611), Brookings Blizzard (.571) and Minot Minotauros (.539) will each send four and the Aberdeen Wings (.278) will send three. The head coach will be Chris Tok from Austin and the assistant coach will be Layne Sedevie from Bismarck.

FRONTIER: Wenatchee Wild (.809) will send five players and the Fairbanks Ice Dogs (.708), Kenai River Brown Bears (.444) and Fresno Monsters (.368) will each send four. Three additional wild card players will be selected by the NAHL competition committee and added to the team. The head coach of the Frontier team will be Bliss Littler from Wenatchee and the assistant coach will be Trevor Stewart from Fairbanks.

GREAT LAKES: Jamestown Ironmen (.716) will send five players, the Soo Eagles (.705), the Johnstown Tomahawks (.577) and the Port Huron Fighting Falcons (.476) will each send four and the Michigan Warriors (.408) will send three.  The head coach will be Dan Daikawa from Jamestown and the assistant coach will be Bruno Bragagnolo from the Soo.

MIDWEST: Topeka RoadRunners (.662) will send five players, the Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings (.628), the Janesville Jets (.462) and the Springfield Jr. Blues (.450) will each send four and the Coulee Region Chill (.347) will send three.  The head coach will be Scott Langer from Topeka and the assistant coach will be Marc Fakler from Kalamazoo.

TEXAS: Amarillo Bulls (.819) will send five players, the Texas Tornado (.731), the Corpus Christi IceRays (.486) and the Wichita Falls Wildcats (.412) will each send four and the Odessa Jackalopes (.167) will send three.  The head coach of the Texas team will be Dennis Williams from Amarillo and the assistant coach will be Tony Curtale from Texas.


posted Jan. 20th, 2013 - 3:40pm
Tony Prito says:
lets hope that despite being last that all of the Div. 1 prospects on the Warriors get true consideration for the Great Lakes team i.e. Marty Gruse, AJ Marcinek, Conner Lyons, Jake Faiela, Sean Campbell, & of course Trevor Gorsuch..

posted Jan. 20th, 2013 - 3:43pm
Jack Dodd says:
I agree that this format sucks - there should be no players with D1 commits taking part AND it should be the Top 20 Prospects from each Region. Players should not be penalised because they play on a team with lower winning %.

posted Jan. 21st, 2013 - 5:55am
Mateo Stannard says:
Once a player commits to a school they are no longer a prospect. Committed players who are allowed to participate in a "prospects" tournament are taking away the last opportunity from their teammates who are eager to achieve the same lifelong goal. Equally troubling is the fact this clearly takes deviates from the mission statement of the league. Coaches should voluntarily side-step this rule in favor of rostering only true prospects qualified by the NCAA Clearinghouse with the availability to advance.

posted Jan. 21st, 2013 - 7:33am
Stephen Heisler says:
Mark Frankenfeld, Commissioner
5850 Town & Country Blvd. Suite 301

Frisco, TX 75034
Fax: 214-975-2250
Email: nahl@nahl.com

Mark Frankenfeld- mfrankenfeld@nahl.com
Bill McCoshen BOG President - bill.mccoshen@capitolconsultants.net

posted Jan. 21st, 2013 - 7:44am
Randy Russon says:
Word is that the Great Lakes team coached by Dan Daikawa and Bruno Bragagnolo did not pick any Division 1 commits for their team.

Right off the top, that takes Soo Eagles goalie Tyler Marble, a Lake Superior State commit,and Johnstown Tomahawks goalie Chris Truehl, an Air Force Academy recruit, off the Great Lakes team, thus paving the way for the goalie spots to be filled by Trevor Gorsuch of the Michigan Warriors and Max Milosek of the Port Huron Fighting Falcons.

posted Jan. 21st, 2013 - 9:43am
Martin Breen says:

Randy/Stephen, I am conflicted on this issue, while I certainly want every player in the NAHL to get a serious look by D1 schools, I am not sure I agree only non-committed players should go to Top Prospects Game (as some have suggested here). A Top Prospects game should be the most talented players in the league. For those that think that D1 coaches pick players based on one weekend, do not undertsand the process. Unlike any other level (besides pro), these coaches are putting money on the table (usually $100k - $200K of scholarship funds, they cannot afford to get it wrong so the typical scout process with be a year or more.

posted Jan. 21st, 2013 - 11:51am
Mateo Stannard says:

Seems to me the scouts time and money would be better spent knowing all the players he sees on the ice are potential candidates for his roster. What good does it do to watch player(s) they can't have anyway? Think of it like this, if you're looking for a wife better start with the ones without husbands!

posted Jan. 21st, 2013 - 12:51pm
Bill Mueller says:
Mateo is making sense that's hard to argue with.

posted Jan. 21st, 2013 - 2:54pm
Randy Russon says:

A rather inimitable comparison. Well stated.

posted Jan. 21st, 2013 - 6:06pm
Martin Breen says:

Randy, first thanks for making me look up the word "inimitable," so I can remember that I should have listened more in English class.

Mateo, I hear what you're saying -- I said I was conflicted.

I know the USHL tries to take the top players so maybe that's coloring my opinion because I think the USHL is a very well-run league. Again, I would like to see the NAHL move towards Tier 1 so we can have more competition here in the States and create more opportunity for all.

At the end of the day, I defer to Stephen and Randy as they seem to have their fingers on the pulse of junior hockey as well as trying to help players reach their goals. I honestly wish every player could play D1 or college hockey because the experience is life altering.

I know everyone looks down on it but the ACHA is getting better every year. ASU recently beat D1 Penn State and they probably could go toe-to-toe with many D1 schools (although not the top half).

posted Jan. 21st, 2013 - 8:22pm
Randy Russon says:

Ha ha, well, English was my best subject in high school followed by Economics. In that regard, I guess I was a geek.

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* Article disclaimer: This site may contain advice, opinions and statements from various authors and information providers. Views expressed in this article reflect the personal opinion of the author, Randy Russon, and not necessarily the views of JuniorHockey.com. JuniorHockey.com does not represent or endorse the accuracy or reliability of any advice, opinion, statement or other info provided in the article, or from any other member of this site.

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