HNIB Northern New England Festival: Top 25

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HNIB Northern New England Festival – June 9, 2017 Every year one of the first summer hockey events in New England is Hockey Night in Boston’s Northern NE Festival. This tournament is a collection of the local high school talent in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and a few from MA as well. Provided that viewings …


OJHL Combine Player Evaluations

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Neutral Zone evaluated all players who attended the OJHL combine April 6-9, 2017 in Oshawa, ON. Below are our reports. Players are young and reports are for this event only. Each player (except for the two late additions) have a profile with NZ which you can access by clicking on his name. Almost every player …


Beantown Spring Draft Division: Top 34

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Neutral Zone headed to Marlboro, MA for the annual Beantown Spring Classic March 8-10, 2017. We watched both the Draft and Pre-Draft divisions. Below is our report on the Draft division. Each Draft team had 16 skaters and there were four teams. Players in this division are birth years 1996-1999. Teams played two 25 minutes …


10 Misconceptions among Hockey Prospects

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  “If you’re good enough, coaches can get you into their school”  Misconception:  Regardless of a players academic performance, college coaches can get players into schools if they are good enough at hockey. Reality: NCAA Hockey Coaches are a part of the athletic office of their school which is entirely separate from the admissions office. …


GOJHL Player Reviews (St. Catherine, Chatham, Pelham)

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Neutralzone has been attending GOJHL games in the month of November and these players from St. Catherines, Chatham, and Pelham stood out to us. Each position is listed in order with a letter grade from A to C. Forwards: A Zach Main (L, 5-10/170 lbs, St.Catharines Falcons,1996) – Zach had a dominating performance registering 2 goals …


STX Elite Hockey Shootout: Top 55

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Neutral Zone sent two of our top scouts to South Bend, IN for the STX Elite Shootout; two former pro players and now regional scouts with Neutral Zone. Sean Tallaire, former Lake Superior standout and our head Michigan scout, came over to see the action as well as local Chicago scout Jeff Salzbrunn, a former CHL and then AHL/ECHL player.

STX has teamed with 200×85 LLC, a company that puts together elite hockey showcases and clinics including the well known Bauer Showcase and STX Top 68 Camp. This showcase featured many of the top bantam teams in the US and Ontario. We put together a list of the top 55 players in the event, sorted by teams.

As always, the grades provided are a  snapshot of how the players performed in this particular event and not a reflection of their overall game. Our pick for tournament MVP was Owen Power of Mississauga and below are the records for each team.


Oakland- 4-1-0

Vaughan kings 1-4-0

Mississauga 3-0-2

Shattucks 3-1-1

Iss Kings 4-1-0

Niagara north stars 0-5-0

Chicago mission 3-0-2

London Jr. Knights 1-3-1

Nj Devils 3-2-0

Buffalo Jr. Sabres 4-0-1

North York Rangers 1-4-0

Syracuse Nats 2-3-0

Burlington Eagles 0-5-0

Detroit LC 4-0-1

Don Mills 1-3-1


Owen Power (LD) Best player overall throughout the weekend for the games we saw. Tall lengthy defenseman, very smooth skater who always makes the smart decision. Really impressive skater for his height and slender build, especially considering his age. Doesn’t have to be physical due to his reach and skating ability. He played in all facets of the game PP-PK. We would have like to see what kind of shot he had but he didn’t take too many here. He continues to develop on this pace he could be a top draft in any league in North America. Even having a late Nov birthdate.  Grade: A+


NE Prep School Preview: Founders League

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The Founders is once again a top-heavy Division, but some new challengers will be making strides this season. Last year saw four teams make the playoffs, but this year a lot will hinge on a youth movement. Big senior classes have graduated and some committed players have moved to the USHL, but the path to success may be paved by which incoming class can make the quickest impact. We expect Avon Old Farms, Loomis Chaffee and Salisbury to be the odds on favorites to secure playoff berths. Here are our capsules for all 10 teams in the upcoming season, ranked in order of predicted finish.

Avon Old Farms Last season was a successful one record-wise (21-2-4) for the Winged Beavers, but ended in a tough semifinal loss to eventual Elite 8 Champion Gunnery. Many of last year’s big names have moved on: F Patrick Harper (BU freshman), D Adam Karashik (UCONN commit), F Jamie Armstrong (Northeastern) and D Ben Mirageas (Providence). To be successful, Avon will need to see players like F Tyler Madden (Northeastern) and F Matt Allen (Providence) step up as offensive kingpins. They will also have many, many young weapons to mentor including: 99 F Nick Wildgoose (St. Lawrence), 99 D Ben Pirko (Union), 00 F Drew Elser (UCONN), 00 D Mac Wiseman (UCONN) plus 4.25 star BU recruit 01 F Trevor Zegras. They also welcome smooth skating defenseman Jack Babbage from the Don Mills Flyers in the GTMMHL who had a strong summer at the National Development Camp in Buffalo, NY. Oh and let’s not forget one of the best goalie prospects in the country: 4.5 star 01 Spencer Knight (BC). While this next kid might not get the press of some other blue chips listed above him, don’t count out Will Christensen, a speed/energy forward who may not dazzle on the stat sheet but he’s a high motor, no-quit type that skilled teams need. The future is very bright for Avon Old Farms and Coach John Gardner but the present isn’t to be taken lightly.

NZ’s Take: No team in prep school lost the talent Avon did this past year and that might be an understatement. Patrick Harper has been one of prep’s finest players over the past two years and Armstrong and Karashik gave the typically skilled team a physical presence. Mirageas was arguably the best pro prospect in the league and was key to their blue line in every situation. With that being said, they have a highly talented group coming in including six division one commits; led by BC recruit Spencer Knight and BU recruit Trevor Zegras. Both are ‘01s and could take some time to adjust, but they are likely the no.1 and no.2 prospects in all of prep school. Returners Matt Allen and Tyler Madden are coming off strong years and look to take their games to the next level. With a healthy mix or returning and incoming talent, Avon could be the team to beat, not only in the founders league, but in all of New England prep. Time will tell but talent is certainly on Avon’s side. Avon should return to the Elite 8 again this season despite taking on the heavy loses to departures, but with the talent more spread out it could actually benefit the Winged Beavers instead of being a one-line dominated team.


NE Prep School Preview: Lakes Region

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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.


All American Prospects Game Sept. 22, 2016

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The best of the best 1998 and 1999 birth years were on display September 22nd, 2016. There was a load of skill and talent on the ice , but it was a typical all-star game style of play.  There wasn’t much defense and play got a bit sloppy at times.


Jake Oettinger CL 6’04 206 late 98 Team Leclair Boston University

Best goalie in game. Calm. Positions self well. Paddle down.  Covers lower net well good knee slide. Good glove. Directs rebounds well. Let in 2G in 12. One was a nifty backhand one on one the other a rebound in tight crashing the net,neither was bad. Gives you nothing to shoot at.  Grade: A


Alliance Major Bantam Showcase: September 23-25

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  Neutral Zone attended the Alliance Major Bantam (2002’s) Showcase from September 23-25, 2016. The following names are players who jumped out to our scouts and their respective letter grade. The article is organized from Forwards, to Defenseman, to Goalies. FORWARDS A Andrew Casasanta (L, 5-5/146, Brantford 99ers, 2002) Casasanta is Brantford’s captain and PP quarterback. …