GOJHL; Waterloo, Listowel, Elmira, Brantford, Cambridge, Kitchener, Stratford

Posted on October 25, 2016

Below are six GOJHL consolidated game reports for October 2016. All of the players below have profiles in Neutral Zone and we will be updating all season. Grades are for these games only. Games evaluated: Sunday, Oct 2 Waterloo vs Listowel – Listowel 4-3 win Thursday, Oct 13 Elmira vs Brantford – Elmira 6-2 win…

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GOJHL; Welland vs. Buffalo

Posted on October 25, 2016

Neutral Zone attended a GOJHL on Sunday, October 23, 2016. The game was very lopsided and Buffalo struggled. Below are players who stood out and grades are in relation to others in this game. Final score – Welland 10-Buffalo 3  Welland Trevor LeDonne (Defence, L, 6’0” 185 lbs, Welland Jr. Canadians, Feb/00) – Trevor was…

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NE Prep School Preview: Lakes Region

Posted on October 25, 2016

The story remains much the same for the Lakes Region schools in 2016-17. Having produced three playoff teams last season (Kimball Union, Proctor, New Hampton), those three are the odds on favorites to represent the division in this year’s playoffs. Here are our capsules for all 7 teams in the upcoming season, ranked in order of predicted finish.

Kimball Union The Wildcats finished last season as the #2 seed in the Elite 8 Tournament, eventually succumbing to the 6 seeded Milton Academy. Two big pieces have gone straight to the NCAA in Ben Finkelstein (St. Lawrence) and Patrick Shea (Maine), which leaves a bigger role for the top remaining scorers. In net they graduate both goalies in Elijah Harris who is now with the Boston Jr. Bruins (USPHL) and Payton Porter who is now with the Notre Dame Hounds (SJHL).  They also graduated skilled speedster George Sennott (57 points) who is now in the BCHL; Nic Hamre (41 points) who is now in the AJHL and Jack Doherty (32 points) who is now playing soccer at UNH.  Rising junior Roope Hirvonen is back to pace the Wildcat offense but he will need help from senior Michael Lombardi, who made a big jump in production last season. More help is on the way from north of the border as well. Coach Whitehead brings in three heralded forwards from Nova Scotia (00 F Logan Cash, 00 F Kyle Penney and 01 F Arlo Merritt) who will join the squad to make up for a big graduating senior class.  They will also bring in immediate impact forward in PG Paul McAulliffe from St. Sebastian’s. On D, 4-star prospect Jordan Harris, who earned a spot on NTDP Evaluation Camp after last season, will be asked to step lead the defense after departure of Army commit Dennis Cesana (and of course Finkelstein).

NZ’s Take: Not sure if any team in prep got gutted more than KUA to graduation, as they lose their top line of forwards, their top defensive pair and both goalies. With that being said, the Wildcats had a deep roster last season with some talented sophomores who were waiting in the wings for their opportunity. Roope Hirvonen is their leading returning scorer but behind him are three USA Hockey National Development Camp invites in Thomas Samuelsen (F), Bryce Dolan (D) and Andranik Armstrong (F). Not to mention emerging versatile prospect Chris Konin who is coming off a strong summer and fall season. A Tim Whitehead led team will likely reload instead of re-build, but they will need a lot of new faces to make immediate impacts, especially between the pipes. We wouldn’t expect last year’s success, but they are still a cut above the rest of the division.

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NE Prep School Preview: Keller Division

Posted on October 24, 2016

The Keller Division was a juggernaut last season with six teams securing playoff berths. Many of the talented juniors that made impacts last season are sticking around for one more go as seniors, which will keep the top of the Division heavy. It seems to be getting deeper though with a new influx of D1 committed prospects who will make their prep debuts this fall. We would suspect Thayer, Milton, Lawrence Academy, St. Sebs and Nobles will be the playoff teams this season. Here are our capsules for all 8 teams in the upcoming season, ranked in order of predicted finish.

Thayer The Tigers wrapped up a storybook 20-win season last year with a Large School Championship, defeating Westminster in the title game. The road to a title gets a little tougher this year as F Ty Amonte (70 points, BU commit), D Kyle Peterson (26 points) and D Colin McCabe (25 points) have all left due to graduation. But the good news is that there is plenty of returning firepower to keep the fires burning for Coach Tony Amonte down in Braintree. Top scorer F Casey Carreau (71 points, BC commit) is back, which could mean bad things for the rest of the conference given what a difference maker he was last season. Attacking F Aidan McDonough (44 points) is back for his senior season, while F Evan Googins (20 points) and F Tristan Amonte (16 points) should continue to improve as upperclassmen. The forward lines for the Tigers are very deep and the defense looks quite athletic as well: PJ Garrett, Cam Lemanski and young 01 Jake Flynn should bolster a crew of mobile blue liners. Speaking of which, new additions include 4-star UMASS Amherst commit D Jayson Dobay, plus Providence commit F Jay O’Brien, and G Jimmy Scannell who comes over from St. Sebs. All told, it’s a good year to be a Tiger.

NZ’s Take: While the team lost a key core of talent, Carreau could be prep’s most productive player this season, McDonough is one of the better power forwards in prep and incoming recruits Jayson Dobay and Jay O’Brien are immediate impact players who could arguably make this team better than it was a year before.  Goaltending is the only real question mark but if they can get strong play from the crease than this team is Elite 8 bound.

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Top 500 NCAA Eligible Prospects Born in 1996

Posted on October 22, 2016

Neutral Zone is pleased to announce our Top 500 NCAA Eligible Prospect Rankings for the 1996 birth year. Last year we only ranked the top 100 in each age group but we decided to extend our rankings this year after growing the scouting staff from 10 to 30. We will be leaving the old list on the National Rankings Page for scouts and fans to look back on before uploading this new list.

“We attended the AHCA Coaches Convention this summer and the most consistent feedback we received was that Division II/III coaches wanted a more expansive list for their 20 year old prospects,” remarked President Steve Wilk. “Looking at the data from last year we saw that over 600 incoming freshmen were 20-year old’s and so we shifted our focus this fall to accommodate that trend. We are starting with this list of 500 as our preliminary list, similar to NHL Central Scouting, and we will make additions, subtractions and edits as the season progresses. Our midterm ranking will be in the middle of January and the final ranking will be in the end of March.

Each player has been seen and evaluated by the Neutral Zone scouting staff. NZ scouts were busy this fall covering the USHL Fall Classic’s, BCHL Showcase, SJHL Showcase, AJHL Showcase, EHL Showcase, USPHL Showcase, NAHL Showcase and GOJHL Showcase including individual games. “The only way this list is possible to construct is if you have a large, highly competent scouting staff,” remarked Director of Scouting Brendan Collins. “I want to thank all of our scouts, but in particular, Brian Murphy, who was the longtime Head Coach at Tufts University and Marlin Muylaert who has been a Head Coach both at the CIS and NCAA level.  These guys have been in rinks all fall building this list and organizing regional scouts to make sure we saw as many prospects as possible.”

One of the things we preach at Neutral Zone is to avoid any bias or ego. The staff puts a lot of man hours and discussions in the scouting room about where these players are ranked, but in no way is this the final list. All of these players will be followed and evaluated more throughout the season and any changes or movements will be reflected in each player’s profile page.

With that being said, 100% of incoming college freshman this past year that we ranked 3.75 or higher committed Division 1. We saw over 95% of our 3.5 star prospects commit Division 1 as well. It is at the 3.25 – 3.0 category that we see the real drop off, as less than 15% of those players committed Division 1. Every year brings different recruiting patterns and trends, but we feel 3.5’s and upward are Division 1 prospects, 3.25’s are on the fringe and 3.0 star prospects and below are Division II/III. Obviously, like anything, there are plenty of exceptions to the rule, but our 2015-2016 statistics support this basic framework.

**Disclaimer: There are a lot of players on this list from Canadian junior leagues. Given the current economy and exchange rates between the US and Canadian dollar, there will likely be a decent percentage of these players who do not end up playing college hockey.  We also see trends in the Midwest and Western US, where Division II/III hockey isn’t as prevalent, that quality players who fall short of Division I stop playing or go the club route. This creates opportunities for other players in leagues that we didn’t cover in this list such as the WSHL, NA3HL and USPHL Elite, to name a few.


League Breakdown

League Players %
NAHL 128 25.6%
BCHL 78 15.6%
USHL 47 9.4%
AJHL 47 9.4%
USPHL 45 9.0%
OJHL 41 8.2%
SJHL 39 7.8%
CCHL 37 7.4%
MJHL 16 3.2%
EHL 11 2.2%
GOJHL 11 2.2%

 What we see in this chart is a breakdown of where the players are coming from. We see that the NAHL represents a quarter of the players which makes sense because the league is large and has a lot of older, veteran junior players. Contrast that to the USHL where they are only allowed four 1996’s per team. Therefore, this is not reflective of which league is “better.”


Position Players

 This data simply shows the position breakdown of our list. On a typical hockey team the roster consists of 60% forwards, 30% defense and 10% goalies so we tried to stay close to that breakdown without impacting the quality of the list.


Division 1 Commits

This chart shows the breakdown of Division 1 committed players versus uncommitted players. One of the areas we are trying to add awareness to is that only around 175 players at the 20-year-old age group went on to play Division 1 last year. We anticipate that only the top 35% will go Division 1 and nearly half of them are already committed.

Star Rating Breakdown

Rating Players %
4.5 4 0.7%
4.25 5 1.0%
4.0 15 3.0%
3.75 31 6.2%
3.5 80 16.0%
3.25 104 20.8%
3.0 81 16.2%
2.75 100 20.0%
2.5 81 16.2%

This last chat breaks down the different star ratings that exists on our list. Why so few 4 stars and upward? A lot of this is because the top prospects were taken at 18, then 19 and so only a few are left playing junior hockey by 20. Some are transfers, some need extra time to improve their academics and some are just taking another year to get bigger and stronger and faster.  The data shows that only 55 players or 11% of the list are sure-fire D1 prospects. The group of 3.5-star prospects accounts for 80 players or 16% of the list. Therefore, if all the 3.5 star prospects and above commit Division 1 then that would account for only 27% of the total list.

Top 500 NCAA Eligible Prospects in North America Born in 1996

Name Team Name Position Commit Star
1 Nicholas Jones Penticton (BCHL) F North Dakota 4.5
2 Patrick Kudla Dubuque (USHL) D Arizona State 4.5
3 Keegan Ford Dubuque (USHL) D Michigan Tech 4.5
4 Brendan Harris Wenatchee (BCHL) F Bemidji State 4.5
5 Jake Jaremko Chicago (USHL) F Minnesota State 4.25
6 Quin Foreman West Kelowna (BCHL) F Dartmouth 4.25
7 Matiss Kivlenieks Sioux City (USHL) G Minnesota State 4.25
8 Max Kaufman Langley (BCHL) F Vermont 4.25
9 Mitch Perrault Omaha (USHL) F Harvard 4.25
10 Jake Stevens Victoria (BCHL) D St. Lawrence 4

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Neutral Zone

CCHL Games; October 5th, 7th, 10th, 21st

Posted on October 22, 2016

Oct 5th, 2016 Brockville Braves vs. Ottawa Jr.Sens #1 Henry Johnson (G, 6’0/170, Brockville, 96) – Played a very steady game tonight in nets, ended the night with 48 shots against and let in 5 goals, but 3 of the goals were highlight goals that he had no chance on saving. His rebound control was…

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Boston Jr. Eagles U16 Showcase: Top 17

Posted on October 20, 2016

NeutralZone attended the Boston Junior Eagles U16 Showcase at Providence College and Northeastern University on October 15-16.  Four of the top U16 teams in the country were part of the showcase (Boston Junior Eagles, Honeybaked, Chicago Mission and North Jersey Avalanche).

The level of play throughout the weekend was high even though most teams played four games in two days. Below is a listing of the top players on the weekend. Note: no distinction was made between 00’ and 01’ birthdays (although some 01’s were the standout players).

Alex Turcotte (Chicago Mission, 5’10/190, 2/26/01) – Had an extremely strong weekend. Was in a class by himself for much of the showcase. Strong lower half allows for superior balance and skating. Gets up to speed in a few steps effortlessly. Can beat defenders wide with speed and although he does not have a large frame, uses his body well. Plays an aggressive, slashing style and does not hesitate to drive to the net. Always around the puck in the offensive zone and finishes well. Uses his teammates well and at times is too unselfish. Smart player that is always in position and frequently finds the soft-spots on the ice. The puck seems to follow him around the ice. Grade: A

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Midget AAA-Peterbourough; Nepean; Hawkesbury; Timmins; Toronto; Waterloo; Kanata

Posted on October 18, 2016

Neutral Zone headed to check out some Ontario Midget action on October 14 and October 15.  We graded 20 players from the weekend. The players are listed under their teams and grades reflect performance for that single game. The players were ones that in our opinion helped their teams and stood out in a positive way. Grades are in comparison to other players on this list.

All of the below are in our player profiles and will be tracked the remainder of the season. Any more reports will linked to each players profile as we build his NZ recruiting resume. Once we feel comfortable, we will add star ratings. Almost all of the players below are new to Neutral Zone.

Blake Curran #33(Catches leftGoalie -6’1 174 lbs-Peterborough Midget AAA- 1999)

Big and moves well. He was squared to the shooters and his rebound control was real good.  He moved the puck well and to the right spots when he did play the puck.  He made some huge saves early in the game to keep his team in the game.  He also stopped a point blank scoring chance with under a minute to go.  He won the player of the game. Grade: B

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Major Bantam; York Simcoe at Markham

Posted on October 17, 2016

Major Bantam (2002) game October 17, 2016. York Simcoe Express at Markham Waxers. Final score was York Simcoe Express 14 at Markham Waxers 0. There are several players on the York Simcoe team that will be closely watched by CHL scouts. Following is a summary of the players that had particularly strong showings. #55 Quintin…

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Buffalo vs. Milton; OJHL

Posted on October 16, 2016

Buffalo vs. Milton; October 16, 2016 It was a fairly even game, Buffalo scored on a bad turnover in front and then buried a couple PP goals which helped them control the second half of the game. Milton struggled to generate quality scoring chances which has been evident all season for them. Buffalo 4. Milton…

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