The Exeter Tournament is one of the cap offs the prep season as 8 NEPSHIA teams meet at Phillips Exeter Academy to play two games, one on Saturday and one on Sunday.
Instead of doing four complete game recaps, we decided to just put together a paragraph on each team, talk about what we saw, highlight a few standouts and a few sentences on the game itself.
Kimball Union 5 Vermont Academy 3
Summary: Kimball Union and Vermont Academy played to an even 3-3 game until the mid third period when KUA was able to pull away in the second half of the game. KUA was the better team but Vermont Academy came out hard, gave them their best shot and recieved great goaltending from Dylan Regan.
Kimball Union: It’s very early in the season but this is a different team than their previous two championship teams. They have depth upfront with 3 solid lines and a good skating, decent-sized defensive core. They don’t have the kind of goal scorers they had last season, but they have some size, they can skate and have solid depth. Their top forwards are Arlo Merritt, Kyle Penney and Brian Carrabes; however, several others caught our eye in this game. Sullivan Mack is a fast, nifty forward who competed hard in this game and used his speed. Tomas Mazura is a tall, long forward with soft hands and athleticism and was a pleasent suprise making plays on the power play and scoring a key goal in the game. A legit D1 prospect. We were also impressed with Zach Taylor; he played on the top unit with Arlo Merritt and Kyle Penney and did a lot of the dirty work. He’s hard on pucks, he finishes checks and when he gets the puck has the skill to make plays. Another potential D1 prospect. Lastly, up front we liked what we saw from junior ’02 forward Paul Dore from Gatineau, QC who showed a nice combination of size, puck protection and skill and while he played a third line role, he made the most of his opportunities. On the back end Christian Felton was their top player but Andrew Noel and Devan Newhook also had good performances. Conner Chalmers is a young ’03 defender with nice upside and he had impressive poise for his age and inexperience. At first glance this team doesn’t look to have the fire power of last season’s squad, but their depth, their size and their skating will make it difficult for teams to matchup with.
Vermont Academy: Vermont has had some coaching changes since this time last year when they had a senior laden team come knock off NE Prep Champion KUA. The team competed hard and didn’t look phased by who they were up against. Their top player was John Peloso who was hard, physical and scored a nice 5-hole goal off a turnover. However, he was ejected from the game for a high hit against Arlo Merritt in the second period. Their goaltender Dylan Regan who pulled off the upset, almost stole another game here and made several brilliant saves, particulary effective on his pads. Others who made an impression were John Kondub who is skilled with the puck and creates offense for his linemates. Two other forwards who made an impression were Kevin Urquhart a tall, gangly forward with a long stick and plenty of hustle and Mason Cipriano, another hard working, who uses his speed and grit to get pucks to the net. They have a young ’03 on their blue line Drew Taylor who is someone to keep an eye, showed he can handle the puck, escape forecheck pressure and break pucks out.
New Hampton 6 Brunswick 6
Summary: The story with this game was all about Cooper Moore, an emerging NHL Draft prospect, who scored an impressive 5 goals including 3 in the third period to come back from being down 6-2 going into the third period. This was one of the best comebacks we have seen in recent memory and it all came on the back of Cooper Moore who was easily the player of the day here at the Exeter Tournament.
New Hampton: While the Huskies will likely be disappointed after blowing a big lead, this is a team who lost a lot of talent off last seasons Small School Runner Ups, but looked to pick right up where they left off. They are a bigger team than they were last season, they brought in some nice pieces up front that gives the team more balance and showed they can score. Jake Dunlap is their top player and he played like it here with speed, hustle, grit and slippery stick skill. However, his two linemates Jack Ring and Alec Grace had strong games and second line was effective as well off strong performances from Marcus Joughin and Isaac MacLeod. MacLeod is an Ontario native who is worth watching; he’s hard on pucks, he’s smart and understated and has a powerful shot. Their blue line has size as every player is over 6 feet tall but they certainly are missing NHL Draft pick Michael Kesselring. A lot of new players in the lineup with key roles who should get better as the season goes on.
Brunswick School: Brunswick is a young but talented team; they have four 2003’s who are playing significant time. However the story here was Cooper Moore, a highly athletic, two-way defender who took the team on his shoulders and propelled them to a 4-goal comeback effort in the third period. More performances like this and he’ll see his name climb up NHL Draft boards. He’s also a highly touted lacrosse player. The ’03 group led by Ryan St. Louis and Paul Davey were impressive; St. Louis is a smart, crafty playmaker and Davey is a bit taller, has nice reach and soft hands and goes to the net. Their top line of Shaffer-Davey-St. Louis was excellent both 5v5 and on the power play. We were also impressed with the play of ’03 forwards Matthew McGroarty and Michael Salandra. For older players Charles Shaffer looked sharp here and proved he was not just a compliment to LeSueur and Forrest on last year’s squad. He’s speedy, he’s a quick processor and can make a lot happen on the rush and out of the corners. Defensively Henry Hill has shown improvement from a year ago. They aren’t as skilled as they were last season losing Forrest, Lesueur, Carmichael and Richter but they have a nice group of young talent here.
Gunnery 9 Hebron 1
Summary: Gunnery got out to a 2-0 lead after the first period and while they were clearly the better team, it was a fairly close back and forth game. However, they scored another 5 goals in the second period and started to put the game out of reach led by Alex Jeffries who recorded his first prep hat trick as well as Jimmy Rayhill who put up 4 assists. The game was somewhat ugly and sloppy as Gunnery started to pull away.
Hebron: It was tough to evaluate Hebron because they rarely had the puck but junior Spencer Ryall showed his speed and hustle and we were impressed with 2002 sophomore forward Trevor Tardanico who competed hard, won puck battles on the forecheck and showed a fearless, relentless approach. This could have just been a tough game for Hebron and we’ll circle back tomorrow when they play a Lakes Region foe in Vermont Academy.
Gunnery: This is a team that has great depth both at offense and at defense and completely outplayed this Hebron team. It’s difficult to scout a 9-1 blowout game as there was a lot of talent spread out in this game but we thought up front Alex Jefferies, Mark D’agostino, Aden Hotchkiss, Riley Brennan and Mason Beecher really stood out here. Brennan and Beecher are the two uncommitted prospects in that bunch and while they play a vastly different style, both are effective. Brennan is smooth, slippery and makes heads up plays while Beecher is long, raw, deceptively skilled and tough to play against. Defensively they are led by Jimmy Rayhill but are gettign a lot of miles out of Hunter Sansbury and Niko Ioannou. In net goaltender Carmine Andranovich didn’t see much action but made a few nice glove saves. This is a deep team, they will be tough to play against down the stretch.
Exeter 4 Kent 2
Summary: While Brunswick vs. New Hampton was the most exciting game of the four; this was clearly the best game. Kent is a good three-line team with experience and skill who plays hard and aggressive. Exeter is an older squad with a lot of returning talent who looked like they were in mid-season form. The play of Paddy Bogarts was the difference here, but Exeter has great depth up front, they have size and some skill on the backend and are composed and consistent in net.
Exeter: Phillips Exeter doesn’t have any high-end types, but they have A LOT of good players. Juniors Danny Colon and Reese Ramirez competed hard and showed good skill in space and senior forwards Michael Pitts, Paddy Bogart and Garrett Foster are all returning from last years roster and look to have taken another step forward in their development. Defensively, Exeter has some big bodies in Paddy Mangan, Nicholas Foderaro and PJ Garrett and they stymied a lot of the Kent offensive attack. We were especially impressed here with Paddy Bogart; he saw it really well, he has a rocket release and snaps passes off to set up teammates all over the ice including a brilliant cross crease assist to Pitts. This is a mature team, they are disciplined, they work hard and have excellent special teams.
Kent: While Kent lost to a really good Exeter team, they showed they are very close. While they have a few known D1 commits with Dane Dowiak, Ian Pierce, Michael Posma and Alex Laferriere; the three guys that really stood out to us here was Jason Kleinhans, Aidan Cobb and Matthew Perryman. Kleinhans is a good skater, he scored a nice goal on a catch and shoot at the top of the circles and showed swift hands and playmaking ability. Cobb is quick and clever and creates a lot of offense for his teammates and Perryman is a bit raw but a tall, thin, athletic, fluid skating defender with touch on his passes and a long reach. They have a grueling schedule but if they play like they did most of the game here and stay out of the penalty box, they can play with anyone.